West Indies series an opporunity for youngsters to impress: Sehwag

Virender Sehwag says there will not be pressure on him and Gautam Gambhir, who are the senior-most players in the Indian squad AFP

Cuttack: Nov 28, 2011

India are without some key senior players, including captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, for the ODI series against the West Indies but stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag said that it would give a perfect opportunity for the youngsters in the team to perform well at the big stage.

Besides Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, who have been given rest, the squad also does not have middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh who have declared himself unfit, but Sehwag said his side would not be worried as the youngsters have come into the series with plenty of runs under their belt.

“All the players are in fine form, having scored good amount of runs in Ranji Trophy. It’s a good sign for Team India. Hope the youngsters play the same way with Team India,” Sehwag told reporters on the eve of the first ODI against the West Indies here tomorrow.

“We have a very good young side. It’s good for youngsters they are getting opportunities. They have five games to show their skills. If they perform well we can continue fielding a young side. We are pretty confident to do well. I promise that we will give our best shots. If we can put more than 100 percent the results will show,” Sehwag said.

His opening partner Gautam Gambhir is the seniormost member after him but Sehwag said there would be no added pressure on the duo.

“We are playing for last 12 years. Cricket is same … Everything is same… It’s just another series for us. We are playing so well. We won ODI series against England and Test series against the West Windies. Team India are playing well so I’m looking forward to the series,” he said.

Asked about his inexperienced bowling unit, Sehwag said, “They are very good bowlers, youngsters who need to learn a lot. They are going on the right track and learning with other bowlers. With coach Eric Simons they are doing a great job.”

Sehwag hoped the spin department would live up to the reputation in the ODI series after a good show in the Tests.

“India always have done well in the spin department. In the past, Harbhajan Singh and Anilbhai have done a brilliant job. Now we have got another composition. We had Ojha in Test series and here we have Jadeja, Rahul Sharma with Ashwin. Hope they do well in ODI series as well,” Sehwag said.

Sehwag, who is back in the ODI fold after eight months since the World Cup triumph, said he was raring to go against the West Indies in the five-match series.

“I’m happy that I’m back in the ODI side. I am looking forward to this series. After the World Cup I had a shoulder surgery and it took a little long to recover and for the rehab process. Now that I’m fit, I’m raring to go,” he said.

Sehwag failed to convert fifties into hundreds in the just-concluded Test series against the West Indies but he said there was nothing to worry about.

“I’m looking in this way that at least I was lucky to get three fifties (in Tests). I am happy about my performance,” he said.

The dashing right-handed batsman said he would love to open with his Delhi teammate Gambhir even though the team think tank was yet to decide about his.

“We will have a meeting tonight and will decide who will open with me. I am sure that I’m opening the batting but we will take a call on who will come with me. I would love to open with Gautam. But we have to look our team combination as well,” he said.

Sehwag said Barabati pitch has been lucky for Team India and hoped it to be the same way this time around also.

“We have played some games here. We played last time against England and Sri Lanka and we had won both the games. It’s a good ground for Team India and I think it will be a good batting track.”

But at the same time, Sehwag refused to underestimate the West Indies.

“They are a good side. In ODIs, any team can beat any side. We are not taking them lightly. We will give our 100 per cent. It’s difficult to predict a result. We can concentrate on the process and we will win the series.”

Asked about the reports of Indian batsmen departing early to Australia to acclimatise to the conditions for the gruelling tour starting next month, Sehwag said, “I have not heard anything. But it’s a good thing when you go a little early you will get more time to practice. It’s always good.”

After poor crowd response during the Test series against the West Windies, Barabati is all set to be a fullhouse with all tickets being sold out, and Sehwag welcomed the idea of having matches in smaller towns.

“It’s good to have matches in smaller towns. If it’s a packed house and playing in front of 40-50,000 capacity, it’s a different ball game altogether. We love to play with a big crowd behind. It’s a beautiful ground and a very good wicket to bat on.” (PTI)