Master blaster will be play­ing against arch ri­val Shoaib Akhtar on an icy sur­face.

The Sunday Guardian - - Sports - SAJI CHACKO NEW DELHI

Its a spec­ta­cle few would could have imag­ined. Viren­der Se­hwag tak­ing on the fiery Shoaib Akhtar on ice and that too at the pic­turesque set­ting of a frozen lake in St Moritz, Switzer­land. Come Fe­bru­ary and the Se­hwag Shoaib ri­valry will be en­acted again in the Twenty 20 ties which will be hosted in Feb 8 and 9 in this re­sort of the Swiss Alps.

For the record, the St Moritz Ice cricket has been launched with an aim to es­tab­lish the sport in an un­char­tered ter­ri­tory like Switzer­land. This tour­na­ment, the first of its kind to be played on ice, is the brain­child of Vi­jay Singh of VJ Sports. Apart from Se­hwag and Akhtar, Mo­ham­mad Kaif, Ma­hela Jayawar­dene, La­sith Malinga, Michael Hussey, Graeme Smith, Jacques Kal­lis, Daniel Vet­tori, Nathan Mcul­lum, Grant Elliot, Monty Pane­sar and Owais Shah.will be parit­ic­i­pat­ing in this tour­na­ment.

An even more in­ter­est­ing as­pect is that the or­ga­niz­ers have said that they have got the ap­proval to host this event from the ICC, the gov­ern­ing body of world cricket. “We have got the ap­proval to host this tourna- ment from the ICC, which shows the im­por­tance of our tour­ma­ment,: said an ex­huber­ant Vi­jay Singh.

Vi­jay Singh also said that cricket on ice was not a new thing.”In fact a bunch of am­a­teurs have been play­ing in this Alpine re­sort from 1988. There are some In­di­ans and lo­cals who have been play­ing this game, but now with the likes of Se­hwag and Shoaib grac­ing the oc­ca­sion, its go­ing to do won­ders to the sport in Switzer­land,” he said.

On his part, Se­hwag who also hap­pened to be present at the launch of the event in the cap­i­tal said hav­ing stopped played com­pet­i­tive cricket, it was a chal­lenge to get into shape for this event. “I was still play­ing First-Class cricket in 2015 so it was not very dif­fi­cult to play those matches. Now since I have stopped play­ing the game com­pletely, it will be a chal­lenge to get into the groove.

When asked how much time he took to ac­cept the of­fer of play­ing in this tour­na­ment on ice, Se­hwag came out with a stun­ner. ‘It took me all of two min­utes to make up my de­ci­sion. I was so fas­ci­nated by this unique prospect of play­ing on ice,” he said.

Se­hwag also hoped that the felt that St Moritz tour­na­ment would add an­other di­men­sion to the game. “I am ex­cited to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent for­mat of the game, meet old col­leagues and en­joy the beauty of St. Moritz. I ex­pect that this should be able to add an­other di­men­sion to cricket and we have some­thing new to of­fer to the crick­et­ing fans across the world, “he said..

In or­der to ac­cli­ma­tize him­self to the high al­ti­tude, Se­hwag has found an in­no­va­tive method to train. “I am mov­ing to the Hi­malayas for a few weeks be­fore the tour­na­ment to ac­cli­ma­tize to the tem­per­a­tures. On a se­ri­ous note, I be­lieve in play­ing in the mo­ment with­out be­ing both­ered about any­thing and it doesn’t change now. Con­di­tions, pitch, out­field are all a state of mind” he added.

On his part, Mo­ham­mad Kaif said he was thrilled at the prospect of play­ing cricket on ice.

“I’m ex­tremely ex­cited at the idea and op­por­tu­nity to play cricket on ice. I’ve played cricket all around the world in dif­fer­ent cul­tures and con­di­tions and it’s great to be able to add an­other to the list. I have never been to St. Moritz and can­not wait to go. I guess deal­ing with cold, bal­ance on ice and extra cloth­ing will be some­thing to look out for but at the end of the day it’s still the same cricket ball I’ve faced many times in my ca­reer,” he added

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