Perform or perish, the message for Sehwag had been unambiguous for a long time, more so before the start of the ongoing Test series. The latter is what has been decided for him, at least for now. He must go, the selectors have unequivocally ordered, and justifiably so, for his Test records in the
recent past haven’t been impressive.
Unfortunately, Sehwag had a freakish dismissal in the first innings in Chennai and got a peach in the second. That’s what happens when luck deserts you. At times, you don't value your wicket or give credit to luck as much as you should. Ironically, when you do need the rub of the green the most, it deserts you.
The most pertinent question doing the rounds is whether this will mean the end of the road for Sehwag? Does he have it in him to find second wind?
In 2007, after being dropped, he came back to play Ranji for Delhi. That was the most depleted Sehwag I'd ever seen. To see the man who demolished the Australian attack a few years back struggling against some mediocre bow-ling was depressing.
That was also the first time I saw Sehwag over-balancing and tipping over while playing. He was getting beaten by a foot, which meant his judgement of line and length was awry. Chinese whispers had started doing the rounds about the future of his career, leave alone doing well for India again.
Sehwag was undeterred; he went back into the nets, batting for long hours. Even if it dented his ego — mediocre net bowlers regularly got the better of him — he knew he needed to travel that road. And when he eventually got back into the team, he was a transformed player. He was once again willing to bide his time and play.
Sehwag again finds himself at the crossroads.
He needs to rediscover his mojo, for one final wind would put him in the annals of cricket as a great player. The best way would be to head to England for a county stint post the IPL.
He must make this summer count and then follow it up with some sterling first-class performances at home, next season. If he’s considering finishing his career just like he started, in the middle order, then that's what he should do for the next 6 months.
It's important for him to show eagerness and enthusiasm to bounce back, and only his stepping out of the comfort zone and stretching the envelope can prove that.
Indian cricket would be richer if Sehwag comes back fitter, meaner and in-form. Then, what looks like the end of the road for him might just prove to be a bend.
The writer is a former India opener.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times. (CYCSPL)