Asia Cup 2011-12 March 1, 2012

Sehwag clarifies he asked for rest

Virender Sehwag has dispelled speculation over him being "rested" for the Asia Cup, saying he had explained his medical condition to the chairman of the selectors Kris Srikkanth ahead of the selection meeting to pick the squad for the tournament.

"I have back spasms. I need some rest. I have never kept my team management in the dark as far as fitness is concerned," Sehwag told Mid-Day, after his name did not feature in the 15-member squad announced on Tuesday.

Srikkanth had said Sehwag was rested based on the fitness report and recommendation of the Indian team's physiotherapist. The word 'rested' was interpreted by many as a euphemism for being dropped, given Sehwag had failed during the Test series in Australia and managed only 65 runs in five matches during the CB Series.

But Srikkanth strongly denied the rumours and even lost this cool during the media briefing . Sehwag, too, made it clear that his injury was genuine. "My injury is open for everyone to see. I have never hidden my injury before, or fitness problems. Even my shoulder operation was planned after consulting the then coach Gary Kirsten and skipper MS Dhoni," Sehwag said.

A BCCI official said it was incorrect to blame on selectors for copping out over the 'resting' of Sehwag. He pointed out that Srikkanth's panel had, in the past, taken bold decisions like dropping Yuvraj Singh during the home Test series against Australia, months before the World Cup, and leaving Harbhajan Singh out after his loss of form during the tour of England last year.

"The media and critics said the selectors did not have the guts to say he [Sehwag] is dropped. I don't think that is true," the official explained. "If they wanted to unconditionally drop him, the selectors would have done that. They had dropped Yuvraj Singh four months before the World Cup. Then they dropped Harbhajan Singh after the England tour last year. They could have easily done so with Sehwag, too, now in case they wanted to."

The decision to rest Sehwag, the board official pointed out, was taken keeping in mind the long-term repercussions of playing with an injury. "Sehwag was suffering from spasms, had shoulder pains and was also was having migraine. There was no option but to give him a break."

When asked if Sehwag's concerns about his fitness would be undermined should he play the CB series finals in the event of India's qualification, the official didn't think so. "If at all he goes ahead and plays the final and smacks a hundred it does not mean his body and mind does not need a break," the official said. According to him, a majority of elite cricketers are "literally stitched up together" to be fit to play, and the physio has worked hard to keep Sehwag fit on the tour of Australia.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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