Virender Sehwag endured a torrid run in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy © Getty Images
Virender Sehwag endured a torrid run in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy © Getty Images


Feb 4, 2014


After a poor season, Virender Sehwag has been left out of Rest of India (ROI) squad for Irani Cup. Experts say unless he pulls up socks, it’ll be tough for him to make a comeback.


When the selectors chose the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup on Monday, it wasn’t surprising to see Sehwag’s name missing from the 15-member list.


The stress has been on the youngsters and key performers of the season. Harbhajan Singh and Gautam Gambhir’s selection means that they are still in the scheme of things as far as team India is concerned.


With the crucial England five-match Test series coming up this year adding up to the current form of Indian openers and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, it seems this will be one last chance to prove themselves as this will be the last first class match of the season.


Sehwag has been struggling with form and fitness this first class season. His run in this Ranji Trophy 2013-14 season has been so poor that he averages only 19.50. To put that into perspective one must note that even Ashish Nehra’s average this season is 22.75.


Sehwag has managed to get 234 runs from seven matches with only one half century. On top of that he experimented by coming in to bat in the middle order. But he had to go back to the top order after he failed.


So, Sehwag being ignored is probably a message by the selectors that reputations mean nothing as far Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s future plans are concerned.


But the question is does his poor performance this season justify the non-selection of this match winner, who averages close to 50 in Tests?


The Nawab of Najafgarh is not getting younger and his fitness has become questionable too. His batting was always been about hand-eye co-ordination, but off late he is having problems with his eye sight and has started wearing glasses. A collection of these things have possibly have started affecting his usual batting style which has destroyed bowling reputations around the world. The selectors don’t need excuses, but results and hence, he was ignored.


Former Test cricketer Manoj Prabhakar says it is difficult to accommodate Sehwag in the Indian squad at this juncture.


“Where can you fit him? The current openers are not bad. And you cannot disturb the middle-order either. Virat Kohli is doing well and so is Rohit Sharma. You have to give chance to youngsters like Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu. I think it is better to opt for younger players,” said Prabhakar. “Sehwag is my favourite and is a class player, we will not get another match-winning player like him again, but age is catching up with him and his fitness is not the same. Sachin Tendulkar played long because he was fit. It doesn’t work when you are not fit.”


He added one needs a strong will to make a comeback. “If there is a will there is a way. It is all about the attitude and hard work. Talent and hard work go hand in hand,” he said.


Former India cricketer and Delhi selection committee chief Chetan Chauhan is hopeful that Sehwag was ignored only due to one poor season and there is no finality attached to it.


“It is not the end. His non inclusion is due to his poor season. For a player, who has an average of 50 in Test cricket, form is temporary and class permanent. However, I am happy for Gautam,” said Chauhan. “Selectors will have to keep the options open since our openers have not been doing well. You cannot rule out Sehwag. He just needs one innings to get back that confidence.”


Sehwag’s Ranji Trophy scores this season have been 32 and 11 [vs Karnataka]; 10 and 12 [vs Punjab]; 56 [vs Vidarbha]; 0 and 44 [vs Odisha]; 3 and 6 [vs Haryana]; 9 and 35* [vs Mumbai]; 1 and 15 [vs Gujarat].


The other notable absentees were Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina.


Harbhajan will lead RoI when they take on Ranji Trophy winners Karnataka in Bangalore from February 9.


(Taus Rizvi is a Principal Correspondent with DNA. A club-level cricketer, he believes cricket helps in knowing a person’s character. Taus can be followed on @rizvitaus on Twitter. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, where it first appeared)