Friday, February 02, 2007


Does Team India Need Virender Sehwag?

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The most recent performances from the ODI version of Team India would be enough to coerce many an Indian "fan" into answering, "no!" The team is doing well: posting scores well in excess of 300 without Sehwag, bowling out the opposition without Sehwag and taking stunning catches without Sehwag.

Why on God's dear Earth would you want the said Sehwag to return to the fold when all is so supremely hunky dory without him? Right?

Wrong!!

Dilip Vengsarkar and his wise friends finally took our advice and dropped Virender Sehwag, so that he could return to domestic cricket and find his touch again. Only that, there is a distinct dearth of domestic matches being played for Sehwag to go back to basics in.

Thankfully, the Almighty has instilled enough sense into the powers-that-be within the Delhi & Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) for them to organise a practice match or two for the fallen Indian hero. As a result he has been able to show us that he can take a trick. Sehwag has lost weight, scored runs and grown a beard - the quintessential mark of wounded tiger (read, man) poised to pounce once more.

The real story is that Virender Sehwag got lazy and tired. Every professional faces a point in their career where they need a break, a change of scenery, maybe even a jolt that awakens them from their deep slumber. Sehwag will return to Team India all the better for his own personal jolt. He will return to international cricket knowing what it feels not to be there.

Do not commit the mistake of assuming that it is only Sehwag that needs Team India. This is as much a give and take relationship as any successful marriage (I don't necessarily mean in a typically Indian sense, either). Virender Sehwag provides attacking options and prowess that a captain would die for. Whether that be at the top of the order or in the middle of it. A fully fit and in-form Sehwag coming in to bat in the 28th over will give opposition captains big headaches.

For all of Team India's heroics over the past couple of weeks the middle order is still brittle. Suresh Raina has seemingly forgotten how to hold a bat, Yuvraj Singh is badly undercooked and I remain a hugely skeptical of the Dinesh Karthik experiment. With Mohammad Kaif unlikely (and rightly so too) to be selected for the final World Cup squad, a middle order inhabited by both Karthik and Raina is a gamble that India cannot afford, IMHO.

For all the success achieved by comeback kid Sourav Ganugly (more on him later), my man Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, there is still plenty of space for Virender Sehwag.

Team India needs Virender Sehwag if they are to win the World Cup. There - you have that in writing.


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