With ODI future looking bleak, Test offers best hope
Dropped from ODIs, Sehwag faces a huge challenge to rediscover his destructive batting ability soon. There has been talk that this could be the end of Sehwag’s ODI career as he has no matches to stage a comeback in the last two games. Khurram Habib reports. Flattering to deceive | Out of favour yet againcricket Updated: Jan 08, 2013 10:37 IST
On the eve of the final India-Pakistan ODI, skipper MS Dhoni had said he will field the best possible XI. On Sunday, after the close win, he was asked whether this team sans Sehwag was the best XI.
Dhoni replied as diplomatically as he could have, saying the decision to rest/drop Sehwag was taken well after the pre-match press conference where he’d talked about playing the best XI.
It has been learnt that the decision to drop Sehwag was taken in the morning, well before the toss, and it was decided to leave him out to make things easy for the selection panel that was picking the squad for the England ODIs later in the day.
Playing it safe
“It would have been tough to leave Sehwag out had he scored runs in the final ODI. His inconsistency, as in the Test series against England (he flopped after scoring a ton in the first Test) convinced them that he should not be picked. Actually, it is good to give him a break at this time ahead of the Tests (against Australia),” said an official.
This view point was further strengthened by this single piece of stat. While Sehwag had, in late 2011, notched up the highest individual score in ODIs (219), he barely averaged 20 in ODIs in 2012. The player himself refused to comment.
There has been talk that this could be the end of Sehwag’s ODI career as he has no matches to stage a comeback in the last two games.
He will also not be playing Tuesday’s second warm-up tie England XI will play against Delhi at the Ferozshah Kotla.
No big guns
Delhi chief selector Chetan Chauhan confirmed that neither Sehwag nor Gautam Gambhir, also enduring a lean run, will play.
“It is not the end of the road for him. He is going through a rough patch,” said the former Test opener.
If India’s new opening combination, Gambhir and Rahane, does well against England, it will make it tough for Sehwag to come back for the final two ODIs.
The venues for the first three ODIs are Rajkot, Kochi and Ranchi. Pitches at the first two venues have been traditionally good for batting. Ranchi will stage its first ODI.
The India captain has been going through a rough phase for some time. Sunday’s win may have given Dhoni a brief respite from the sharp criticism of his leadership by those former players calling for his head.
Sources said retaining Dhoni as captain for the Australia Test series starting next month will depend on the ODI series against England.
If India lose the series, there are chances either Sehwag or Gambhir could be made the Test captain.
There has been talk of making Sehwag the Test skipper ahead of Gambhir because of his seniority and the fact that Gambhir hasn’t been doing well of late.
However, former players like Maninder Singh feel Gambhir should be handed the Test captaincy.
Young Virat Kohli’s batting failures starting with the England Test series have put his captaincy claims on the back burner, at least for now.
A cricket official said: “This break might help Sehwag regroup for the Tests.”
At 34, Indian cricket’s ultimate instinctive batsman would know he doesn’t have the luxury of too long a break.