Sehwag, the swashbuckling opening batsman for India, is one of the most aggressive batsmen in modern day cricket. His mere presence on the crease sends tremors down the spine of the opposition. He started as a middle order batsman for India. It took him a couple of startling performances as a makeshift opener to cement his place as India’s first-choice opener. His aggressive style of play often makes the bowlers run for cover. More often than not, he provides a blistering start to the innings. This really lays down a platform for the middle order batsmen to build the innings.
Off late, Viru’s batting form seems to have deserted him. Even his attitude and commitment towards the game have been questioned. This is not helping the Indian team, which requires its premier opening batsman firing on all cyclinders. Unfortunately, this is not happening as Sehwag seems to be involved in a tussle with the Indian skipper, MS Dhoni.
The history of this friction between the two stalwarts of Indian cricket is not something new. It started way back in 2007, when Dhoni was made the captain of Indian ahead of the more experienced Sehwag. During the the T20 World Cup in 2010, the Dhoni-Sehwag rift was quite apparent with Dhoni dousing questions about Viru’s fitness during media briefings.
As this story gathered more steam, the skipper paraded the entire team into the press conference to elucidate that everything was fine in the Indian camp. During the CB series in Australia, the Indian captain’s rotation policy drew a lot of flak. This involved three openers- which included Sehwag.
This spat with Dhoni is not helping Sehwag at all. His recent outings with the bat are nothing to be proud of. If that was not enough, he was dropped from one of the league games in the T20 World Cup.
His mind seems to be preoccupied with things other than cricket. Earlier, his prolific scoring with the bat would mask his average fielding. Owing to his string of failures with the bat, suddenly his average fielding has come to light. Moreover, his attitude is making things worse for him as well as the team. Being a senior member in the Indian line up, he expects to be treated differently- which does not augur well with the skipper.
Dhoni believes in having players in the playing eleven based on their all- round performance. His inclination for the younger brigade is well known. The reason being: they are athletic and are excellent fielders. That is where Dhoni might be having problem with Sehwag.
He has had a number of fitness issues in the past. Still, he does not seem to be working on it: it is really discerning for the captain. Add to that, he is sluggish on the field. With players like Rahane and Tiwary waiting in the ranks, it would be sooner, rather than later, when he may be shown the door.
The message is loud and clear for him: Perform or Perish.
The England series provides him an ideal platform to breathe life into his sagging career. India would want Viru to come up all guns blazing. There is no question that he has been one of the best Test batsmen that India has ever produced. He holds the prestigious record of two triple centuries, which speak of his class. He should put all the demons of the past to rest and give his best shot. For on his day he can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition.