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Will Viru stay? Over to Delhi’s cricket bosses

Resting in a Bangalore hotel after a morning of rehab for his injured shoulder, Virender Sehwag is already tired of being asked whether he’s quitting Delhi cricket or not. “Frankly, I’m born and brought up in Delhi. So why should I leave Delhi cricket?” he counters, when asked the obvious question. Then he pauses and adds, “Unless I have to”.

cricket Updated: Aug 17, 2009 23:30 IST
HT Correspondent

Resting in a Bangalore hotel after a morning of rehab for his injured shoulder, Virender Sehwag is already tired of being asked whether he’s quitting Delhi cricket or not.

“Frankly, I’m born and brought up in Delhi. So why should I leave Delhi cricket?” he counters, when asked the obvious question. Then he pauses and adds, “Unless I have to”.

The India opener and Delhi Ranji skipper isn’t very keen on saying more on the subject, but it’s fairly well known that Delhi cricket might lose its biggest brand to neighbouring Haryana two weeks from now.

Sources close to Sehwag said that he is very upset by the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association sport’s committee’s unwarranted interference in selection matters and will make a decision by this month end on whether to stay or not.

The last date for getting an NOC (no-objection certificate) from one state and making a move to another is August 31.

Sehwag reportedly wants an assurance that there will be no interference in selection from sports committee members pushing their own wards into teams. Now, that assurance will have to come from DDCA president Arun Jaitley and general

secretary Sneh Bansal, who will meet with Sehwag on his return from Bangalore around the 26th or 27th of this month.

However, it’s a little difficult to see what assurance they will give with regard to the Ranji team, as Delhi’s first playing XI is very difficult to get into.

The first 12 really pick themselves: Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Aakash Chopra, Shikhar Dhawan, Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia and Virat Kohli make up a batting line-up that any state will be happy to have.

Then you have wicket-keeper Puneet Bisht, spinner Chetnya Nanda and an India pace duo line-up in Ishant Sharma and Ashish Nehra, with Pradeep Sangwan as the third speedster.

So where’s the space? It’s outside the 12 that the problem comes in. For instance, where the DDCA went terribly wrong last year was in the controversial selection of sports committee convenor Vinod Tihara’s son, Vartik (see box) to the Ranji squad.

According to sources, there are three lines of thought in the DDCA about Sehwag’s reported outburst.

One is that it makes no difference if he goes to Haryana, after all, he is hardly around in any case, being on India duty.

The second is that he is Delhi’s biggest asset and is being emotional, as he has been in the past; and that he will be persuaded by Jaitley & Co to stay.

The third is that he has made up his mind to leave Delhi anyway, possibly because Haryana has reportedly promised him land for an academy there, and is using the opportunity to publicly state what he and other players have privately been saying for years:

“That there is undue interference by the sports committee in Delhi cricket selections, especially in the junior age group teams, and no one else seems to be doing anything to stop it.”