The thumping wins in Chennai and Hyderabad have transformed the mood in the India dressing room, which was plagued by doubts heading into the series. In an ideal world, picking the squad for the last two Tests must be a breeze.
However, all focus is on Virender Sehwag as the selectors name the 15-player squad for the Tests against Australia in Mohali and Delhi, the home turf of one of the most destructive contemporary batsmen who these days blows cold than hot.The 34-year-old opener is suffering from a crisis of confidence. If being dropped from the ODI squad dented his pride, his Test spot too is shaky. While the players celebrated in Hyderabad, the selectors, who dropped Gautam Gambhir before the series, must have been engaged in the more sober exercise.
It would not have been an easy task for Sandeep Patil’s panel. It is no secret that Sehwag's reflexes are not what they used to be. That he started wearing spectacles before the series shows he is concerned about his eyesight too. So, it has to be seen whether the selectors see Sehwag as integral to a team in transition.
Delhi cricket circles, however, are abuzz with the rumour that Sehwag might even call it a day soon.
Some feel the batsman, whose success is built on instinct and despite the absence of orthodox technique or feet movement, is a bit unsure which way to go. At a recent practice session, he is reported to have confided in a friend that he can’t remodel his batting at this stage and trying to do so has only caused him more trouble. Hence, he’ll have to continue playing the way he always did. That would perhaps explain why he went for the spectacles, hoping to regain his sharp sight.
In Delhi's pre-season Ranji camp, Sehwag practiced defensive strokes, making a concerted effort to block deliveries. However, a few days later, he hammered a scintillating ton against Uttar Pradesh in the only Ranji tie he played this season.
Players when dropped usually focus on improving areas that led to their omission. In the ODI team, Dhoni’s emphasis has been on fielding. But Sehwag, who played two local league one-dayers after he was axed, preferred to only bat and did not field.
Apart from Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag is the only one from the golden age of India batsmen in the team. If he is omitted, it could well spell the end of the great batsman's India career as the selectors could then look to prepare a newcomer for the next Test series at the end of the year in South Africa, where express pace and swing bowling will dictate terms.
After the Hyderabad Test, Dhoni acknowledged the dilemma while not revealing much. "You also need to see what situation we are in because we will be touring abroad and we don't have that many Tests after this. In between, we hardly play any Tests and we go off to South Africa. I won't really like to comment."
Decide on Viru, says Dravid
Rahul Dravid wants the selectors to take a call on Sehwag. “I think the selectors and management need to decide whether they are going to open with Viru in South
Africa. Viru at his best, is a great asset, but the reality is he hasn’t been performing particularly well, and he hasn't really done well on overseas trips over the last two or three years. If they feel confident about opening with Sehwag in South Africa, then it makes sense to continue with Sehwag."