Aus v Ind, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Colombo September 28, 2012

Dhoni defends Sehwag's omission, says can't justify every move

ESPNcricinfo staff

MS Dhoni, India's captain, has defended his decision to leave Virender Sehwag out and play three specialist spinners against Australia, saying tournaments like World Twenty20 merited a "horses for courses" policy. Dhoni's omission of Sehwag was widely criticised - both after the toss when the team was announced, and after the match - and his team-mate, Suresh Raina, admitted that it would not be "easy" to get through the remaining Super Eights games without Sehwag in the XI.

Dhoni said after the defeat: "Regarding why Sehwag [was left out], we had only two options [in terms of players]. I don't like to take individual names, I think in such tournaments we should go 'horses for courses'. To exactly justify why a particular player was dropped is difficult."

Raina told the BBC: "For me I think Virender Sehwag can be very dangerous. I hope he'll play the next two games. I think it won't be easy to play the next two games without him."

Friday's match was India's first Super Eight match of this World Twenty20: they scored 140, which Australia chased inside 15 overs. Irfan Pathan, opening in Sehwag's absence, scored 31 off 30, failing to kick on after a good start. Piyush Chawla, effectively the extra spinner accommodated through Sehwag's omission, went for 14 runs in one over. The same combination, though, had worked well in the group game against England, which India won by 90 runs, with Chawla taking 2 for 13 against the hapless English batsmen who had little experience of quality spin.

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar lamented the absence of a settled opening partnership and the fear factor that Sehwag brings. "Gautam Gambhir is a very good street smart cricketer," Gavaskar told NDTV. "He has a very good understanding with Sehwag and so breaking their partnership was not a good idea. He (Sehwag) has a fear factor against the opposition."

Gavaskar was more severe about Chawla's incusion. "Piyush Chawla, since the 2011 World Cup, has not figured anywhere in the Indian team," he said. "Has not even been in the back of any selector's mind. Why not go with Amit Mishra? What's wrong with Rahul Sharma? I sit in the commentary box and I look at his [Chawla's] face and I hope to God, 'Let him not be hit for a boundary.'" He also said Chawla's body language "does not inspire confidence".

Kevin Pietersen, now a pundit with the host broadcasters Star Cricket, was also disappointed Sehwag didn't play. "I feel sorry for Viru," Pietersen said. "I know Australia would rather face an Indian side without Sehwag in it."

However, Sourav Ganguly, another former India captain, said he could understand why the move was made. "I'm not surprised with that," Ganguly said. "It's the right decision, looking at the context of the game and the nature of the pitch. India have gone in with five bowlers and three spinners … It's a good decision, but a one-off decision I'm sure. Sehwag will come back, it's horses for courses."

Ganguly and Pietersen were speaking before the start of the game.

04:41 GMT, September 29: This article has been updated with Suresh Raina's quotes.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Why sehwag out from the team for last 2 matches? It is now creating pressure on sehwag that, he (Sehwag) have to play some inningses which can give him a permanent position in the team. Sehwag is not out of the form, one man can't play long innings everyday. I think Dhoni have to make team list with stil Sehwags on the top of the team. It does matter to drop sehwag out of the team.

  • Alex on September 30, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    Dhoni would have won this game without zaheer and Sehwag. Unfortunately he needs them to keep the team united. There was fire in the team. India can win this game easily i think.

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    I am sure India will win this game to keep their hopes live. Whenever Dhoni go in he should think of scoring more than run a ball. I feel that Rohit body language was not good during Australia match. He should be more focused and move his feet well. Dont bring the spinners till batting power play is over. Pakistan can play spin well and they can spin well too. Good luck boys.

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    Hai guys its cricket , comments are easy but on practical it is too difficult to manage the situation.

    Every one knows Dhoni is the ICC world Cricket team captain , He know what to do all the best india we have confident we will back on track as CSK done in IPL.

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    I will not say this is good decision or bad decision, good to play 5 bowlers but why sehwag is left out. What Rohit Sharma is doing in the team? Weather its team decision or personal rift........... whatever it is but team india is losing because of this and will loose lot of match in future

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Even if sehwag plays and scores today, it wont affect opponents as they will chase target easily with our medium pace/spin bowlers. It was a shameful moment that Indian team doesnt have a single fast bowlers.

  • Humayoon on September 30, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    One man cannot get a team through a tournament.. its team effort and thats what has been missing in India' team.. anyways hope to see a good match between Ind and Pak today.. Pak surely has better chance of winning against poor bowling side..

  • Russel on September 30, 2012, 5:14 GMT

    There doesn't appear to be any great equation between Dhoni & Raina---otherwise why would you send the batsman with ICC ranking #3 (behind Mccullum & Gayle) only when the team is in a crisis and that too after Irfan, Rohit and the not fully recovered Yuvraj? Even during the World Cup when Raina was brought in only during the knock-out stage as a replacement for Yusuf Pathan and played a crucial role, he said in a post-match interview " I really want to thank Gary (Kirsten) for giving me this opportunity" !!

  • mo on September 30, 2012, 4:06 GMT

    The only reason india won the england match was because it was a dead rubber. Such critical errors were made in the Australia match that show what a farce indian cricket has become. Dhoni seems more lucky than capable. First of why pick rohit sharma and raina, neither seems capable enough to hold a bat, you can still excuse picking raina cause he is a good fielder but what exactly does sharma bring to the table. why would you make a bowler of pathans pedigree who primarily picks wickets in his first spell bowl in the tenth over. If you look at him bowling later he either gets hit or doesn't em to be able to generate the bite. Concerning sehwag, true nobody knows what would of happened but if you believe that Sehwag is a class player you also have to believe that after being dropped he would of put his heart into making sure he performed well against Australia

  • Ankur on September 30, 2012, 3:07 GMT

    name of sehwag is enough to discourage any bowler bcos he is the batsmen who score runs even on good dillivers and he is capable of destroying any bowling line up in world. lets hope MSD will understand this and include him in team

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