There is no doubt that if current form is the yardstick for selection, Virender Sehwag doesn’t deserve a place in the national team.
He has done nothing much to write home ever since the hundred in the first Test against England in Ahmedabad in November.
But when one looks at ICC’s Future Tours Programme, it is difficult to imagine an Indian team playing in South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia over the next year and a half without the man who changed the concept of Test openers — Sehwag.
Do the five wise men of Indian cricket really believe that the likes of Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan can do what Sehwag has been doing for India for the last 12 years? Can they give the team blistering starts in the ICC Champions Trophy that is to be played in England in June? The most surprising fact is Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s comments after the Chennai Test when he said that Sehwag needed a little more time and there was nothing wrong with his ‘ see the ball, hit the ball’ technique.
What’s even more shocking is the association Dhoni has had with the ouster of seniors from the side. After the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka, Dhoni had said that Zaheer Khan was the Sachin Tendulkar of India’s bowling department. Strangely, he has not played a T20 match since.
After the ODI series win against England, Dhoni had backed Gautam Gambhir and the next thing that hit the headlines was how the selectors lost patience with him and dropped him from the squad for the first two Test matches against Australia.
And now, it is Sehwag who faces the axe. It might all be mere coincidence, but then such coincidences result in tongues wagging.
It is accepted that Sehwag hasn’t done much to help his cause over the last two years, but then a look at the performance of other Indian batsmen overseas in the last two years hasn’t really been something that can be spoken highly about.
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For a man who started off as a middle- order batsman in 2001 in Bloemfontein, it was all about hand- eye co-ordination and keeping it simple that has earned him over 8,000 runs in Test cricket, of which close to 4,000 have come in foreign conditions.
When Sourav Ganguly literally forced him to open on India’s tour England in 2002, not many would have given Sehwag a chance make the spot his own, let alone change the meaning of opening the batting in Test cricket.
So it seem a bit harsh that the man who has scored two triple hundreds in Test cricket and changed the complexion of many a match by spending just a couple of hours in the middle earns the wrath of the selectors at a time when quite a few other non- performers have been given a longer rope.
Maybe the selectors have decided to use the rope only for juniors and players post- 30 won’t eligible for the reprieve. But one thing is for sure. It would be foolish to think that someone Sehwag will take things lying down. He has done it in the past and for those who have followed Sehwag the cricketer and the person, they will know that it will be about proving his detractors wrong and making a comeback to the Indian team sooner rather than later.
The only issue is that the domestic season is almost over and for him to come back into the team before the series against South Africa will be a tough task. But then when it is Sehwag, expect the unexpected.