SEHWAG – Will there be a rise from the ashes? Or just legendary flames
by Naveen Varshan
There was a time (definitely not a farewell article) when every bowler feared the mere presence of Sehwag in the middle and it could still stay so if he is ready to pull his socks up and put in the yards for the next 6 months. Though Sehwag has had his problems with footwork, he always had his magical hand-eye coordination to lean on, but recently the magic does not seem to be working anymore and with doubts arising over his fitness, eyesight and his desire to continue at the big stage, things don’t look bright for Viru. As for the selectors it has all been just about performance on the field, that is the yardstick they have chosen to measure Viru by and hence the axe from the National team in all formats now, a strong message from the selectors. The selectors might have waited on this issue but the fact India have only two international test matches to go before the big African Safari in November, the selectors had to do it now.
The point that he has no international fixtures before the next away series to prove himself and the selectors wanting to give a run to a set of potential openers before South Africa, Sehwag might have to fight it out during the A-tours that start after the IPL. But even that looks quite unlikely when you see that there is Gambhir waiting in the wings apart from Sehwag. Gambhir is younger, hungrier and looks much more intent on getting his spot back at the national team. So looking at all this, it could basically be about asking the once celebrated opening pair of Sehwag-Gambhir to prove themselves irrespective of their reputation.
Another significant factor to this exclusion could be his poor away form, he hasn’t made a hundred outside the subcontinent in five years. Since Sehwag’s 151 at Adelaide in 2008, he has scored just 523 runs in 12 Tests, at an average of 22.73 with a highest of 67. In Asia, though, over the same period he has amassed 3622 runs at 57.49, at an astonishing strike rate of 94.1. These stats are vitally important bearing in mind that there is just one home series in the next two years and four important away series to South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia.
There is a profound sense of hope among the people in the purely impractical belief that he could take up the coveted number four position when it finally becomes available. But there is hardly any possibility of this with Rahane warming the bench for past few series as the possible replacement when the Little Master decides to hang his boots up. The chief selector Sandeep Patil stated that the Mumbai batsman was selected as a reserve middle-order batsman and that along with his incredible stats at the first class level, there is negligible chance for Sehwag to make a claim to that slot.
All this comes down to state that there is a very small chance for Viru to return as the menacing opener who once enthralled the audience with his exclusive square cuts and audacious shots over the infield. But the reputation and the fan base he has built up for himself, He could put the pressure on the selectors with some big knocks in the domestic circuit and India-A tours if selected.
Wine gets better with age. The best is always yet to come. But Viru is no wine, He is more of a shot of Vodka. Time will tell if he still has it in him to give us the KICKS !!!