India will fight back, promises Sehwag

Amid scathing criticism of its performance, India's stand-in skipper appeals to fans to keep their faith in the team.

india Updated: Nov 28, 2006 19:10 IST

Amid scathing criticism of its performance and strategies back home, India's stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag on Tuesday appealed to fans to repose their faith in the team and promised a fight back.

He also gave a vote of confidence to coach Greg Chappell, who is also under attack, especially from Parliamentarians, after the team's spineless display in the two matches so far.

"My message to cricket fans is that they should trust us. We are good players and we would fight back," Sehwag said ahead of the fourth cricket one-dayer against South Africa at Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.

Indians find themselves jammed in from all sides on the present tour, be it their own wretched performance or injuries to key players or the anger swelling up back home.

Sehwag said the criticism was expected and as professional sportspersons they would take it in their stride.

"In a way, the criticism can be expected and it's not new. When you do well you are praised and when you fail, you are criticised."

"But yes players do get upset when they are told by families back home about the reaction. However, we need to take it in stride as we are professional sportsmen and these things do happen."

Sehwag looked at Rahul Dravid's absence, due to a finger injury, as a moment of opportunity for other players.

"In a way it is an opportunity because we could have games in future when there would be no Tendulkar or Dravid. The rest of the boys have to be prepared and take over the responsibility."

"That's not right. A coach doesn't perform in the middle. The boys do. Coach and captain get credit whenever the team wins but it is the bunch of eleven players who set up the victory. Similarly in moments of defeat, a coach and a captain shouldn't be blamed."

Chappell's coaching style, being ridiculed in Indian cricket circles these days, also drew praise from the opener.

"I think he is a good coach. Under his coaching, our batsmen have improved a lot. He attends to technical issues and gives us good insight."

Sehwag refused to be drawn into any debate about the usefulness of VVS Laxman in one-day cricket in the wake of the comment by chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar that he was not fit for one-day cricket.

"I don't want to be drawn into this debate but the quality of Laxman is there to be seen in his record."

Sehwag said the problems for the team could be solved if the players batted out 50 overs and raised a reasonable total on the board.

"We have to bat well, bat for 50 overs. The batsmen who are set need to carry on."

He also hinted that both the spinners, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, could play in Wednesday's game.

As far as he was concerned, Sehwag was all for playing five bowlers in the game on Wednesday.

"There are a few issues, including Dravid's replacement, which would be discussed later in the day."

First Published: Nov 28, 2006 18:43 IST