India cricket legend Virender Sehwag at Old Trafford on the Stadium Tour.

Sehwag: If India win, Ronaldo will be happy!

Manchester United hosted royalty from a different sport on Saturday afternoon, when Virender Sehwag, one of the most famous Indian cricketers of all time, enjoyed a private tour of Old Trafford.

The 40-year-old batting legend is in town for Sunday’s huge ICC Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan, which will take place at Old Trafford cricket ground, less than a mile from the Theatre of Dreams.
 
But first, Sehwag – who holds the record for the highest individual score (319) by an Indian in Test cricket – was keen to bring his family to United to experience the acclaimed Museum & Stadium Tour, following in the footsteps of current India stars Yuzvendra Chahal, Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar, who were shown around the ground on Friday afternoon.
India cricket stars Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and Yuzvendra Chahal at Old Trafford on Friday.
Current India stars Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and Yuzvendra Chahal at Old Trafford on Friday.
“It's awesome,” said Viru, as we spoke in the first-team dressing room.

“It's the first time I'm visiting Manchester United. I've seen a lot of games on TV, but this is the experience which I wanted to take in, for myself and for my kids, because they are always playing football and they love all the players, and are big fans of Manchester United as a team.

“So it is a dream come true for them to visit the dressing room, to visit the ground, and I'm very thankful to Manchester United, the club, and their people, who have organised this tour for us. I'm really happy.”

Sehwag played international cricket between 1999 and 2013, amassing over 8,000 runs in both Test and one-day international cricket. It made for a busy career, but he always kept a keen eye trained on United’s achievements under Sir Alex Ferguson.

“There are so many times that Manchester United lifted this trophy or that trophy. I could never watch their finals because they were coming [on] very late in India! But I have a lot of good memories – especially [with] my kids. I think Cristiano Ronaldo was the first memory, when he played as a 18-year-old boy, when he got the no. 7 [shirt].”

Despite cricket-related commitments taking up much of his time, Sehwag is hopeful he can revisit United in the future and catch the team in action.

Cristiano Ronaldo debut against Bolton.
Virender has fond memories of watching Ronaldo come into the team as a teenager.
“Why not?”
mused the famously attacking opening batsman.
“Hopefully I can get the opportunity to come to this ground and watch a Manchester United game. I'd be thrilled.”


But for now, the attentions of India’s fifth-leading run scorer in Test cricket – like most of his compatriots – are focused on the epic World Cup match with Pakistan on Sunday.
 
“India-Pakistan is always a big game – it doesn't matter if you're playing in England or in the World Cup, or anywhere else,”
admitted the man from Najafgarh, Delhi.
Virender Sehwag with a United shirt acknowledging his record score for India, 319 runs
Sehwag receives a United shirt acknowledging his record Test score for India.
“Wherever the India or Pakistan fans are living, they're coming from there to Manchester to watch this game. It's a very big game. But if you look at the history, the record the Indian team has against Pakistan in World Cups, they've never lost. It's 6-0. So hopefully we can play well tomorrow and beat them again and make it 7-0. Maybe Cristiano will be happy, because that's his number!”


Sehwag, however, is wary of a talented, unpredictable Pakistan side, who have already beaten tournament favourites England but also been hammered by the West Indies.  
 
“Babar [Azam] is a very good player, so I'm looking forward to seeing his batting, and Pakistan always have very good bowlers like Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir. I'm especially looking forward to the battle between Mohammad Amir and Virat Kohli, or Rohit Sharma.”

Virender Sehwag hits a boundary against England cricket team, 2008.
Sehwag, a notoriously destructive opening batsman, puts England to the sword in Chennai, 2008.
As for the tournament’s overall winners, Viru believes England are the team to beat. 
 
“I think England are favourite, because they are playing at home also, and they have a very good side,”
he continued.
 
“They can bat very deep – number 10 and 11 can also bat – they're used to these conditions, and they have six or seven options as a bowling unit. So, in my opinion, England is favourite. If they don't win [here], I don't think in the future they can win!”
 
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