Delhi stars skip SMA Trophy for IPL, DDCA upset

Sehwag and GambhirPlaying in a match situation is believed to be the best way to prepare for any major tournament. But if the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) is to be believed, its players would rather skip the domestic T20 competition — Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy — and protect themselves for the cash-rich Indian Premier League.

With the IPL round the corner, top Delhi players like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rajat Bhatia and Mithun Manhas, among others, have preferred to stay away from the Delhi team citing injury and illness.

While Sehwag has played just two matches, Bhatia, originally the captain, has played just three matches and Gambhir one. Manhas didn’t play a single match. And this has miffed the DDCA officials.

Injuries such as muscle pulls in the arm, groin and hamstring have kept the players away from slugging it out in the domestic competition.

Gambhir’s case has definitely been considered genuine as he is suffering from jaundice, but officials feel his statement that he will be ready for the IPL shows something is amiss.

The DDCA is particularly unhappy with the way Sehwag has treated the Delhi team. Originally, not part of the T20 squad, he was drafted in after being dropped from the Indian Test team.

But Sehwag has definitely not grabbed the opportunity as he has played only two of the five matches that the Delhi team has played so far in the tournament in the first phase.

"When you are out of the team, you generally tend to play as many matches as possible and score runs, in order to prove it to the selectors that you are good enough. But here we saw Sehwag play just two matches and then he made himself unavailable,” a senior DDCA official told Mail Today. "It is evident that he is saving himself for the IPL. Maybe, he thinks that while playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali, if he injures himself, he will miss out on the lucrative IPL season. This isn’t the attitude we expect from international players.

"It is hilarious how each and every top player has managed to suddenly injure himself somehow or the other. Initially, we were considerate about Gambhir’s issue. But then he went on to say that he will be fit in time for the IPL.” The official further says that such is the situation that one of the members of the support staff, also part of one of the IPL teams, has refused to travel with the team for the second phase to be played in Indore.

"It seems that we are in some comedy show. Today in the morning, a member of the support staff informed the association that he has a sprain in the neck and he won’t be able to travel with the team to Indore.

All this is too much of a coincidence,” he said.

When asked if DDCA president Arun Jaitley has been informed about the development, the official said that Jaitley was told over the phone and the president had promised to speak to the players over the issue.

"Yes, he has been informed and has said that he will personally speak to the players so that such episodes don’t happen in the future,” he said.

With the BCCI making it clear that they won’t start the domestic season with the T20 competition and would start with the first-class Duleep Trophy competition, it seems that more and more top players will give the competition a miss, as it could possibly mar their chances of turning out for their IPL franchises.

State association is particularly unhappy with Sehwag’s attitude.

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