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February 29, 2012
When asked why Virender Sewhag, who has officially been rested for India's Asia Cup campaign, was not withdrawn from the ongoing CB Series, the BCCI selection committee chairman Kris Srikkanth responded with two words: "shut up". It was a rare moment of brevity and candour during Srikkanth's impromptu press conference, which descended into chaos and farce as he offered an unprovoked and lengthy defence of the Indian team's recent performances.
Indian selection meetings are rarely followed by press conferences, so the media was caught by surprise when Srikkanth emerged to a scrum of reporters wielding cameras and microphones at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai. By then the Asia Cup squad had been announced and the question on everyone's mind was why Sehwag was missing from it.
Srikkanth began by reading out the names in the squad, adding that Sehwag and Zaheer Khan were ruled out of the tournament because they had been declared unfit. "That is the team we've selected", he said. "We are confident. Ok, we've done well." He then spoke about Tuesday's match, when India beat Sri Lanka in Hobart thanks to Virat Kohli's century.
"Yesterday's match was an extraordinary game. Hats off to Virat Kohli, the way he played. Hats off to the entire Indian team for the way they approached the game because everybody knew it was a do-or-die game," Srikkanth said. "When you have to chase 320 runs on any kind of wicket, at the rate of eight an over in 40 overs, and getting it at the end of the day in 37 overs, was something amazing. That goes to show the spirit of Indian cricket."
Next, a minor reality check. "Yes, you all might feel there have been ups and downs but this is a typical World Cup-winning team. It showed what winning a World Cup is because of fighting instincts."
Before this revelation: "Yes, we did badly in the Test series. It was totally unfortunate. No excuses, we got beaten thoroughly. But in the one-day matches, if you look at the overall analysis, I think we have done pretty well. It is just that one game was a tie (against Sri Lanka), because of an umpiring error. I think if the one ball extra had been bowled, probably we would have won the game and probably qualified for the final straightway."
The questions about Sehwag, however, did not go away. Sehwag, Srikkanth repeated, was injured. "It is an honest truth. I am not trying to give any reasons. There is a medical report from the physiotherapist, which came to the board, and it says both Sehwag and Zaheer Khan needed proper rest because of their injury problems. So they have been rested only on injury grounds and nothing else. It is an absolute promise."
There was no point, Srikkanth said, in any further speculation. "Anybody can speculate [on] anything. You have been seeing them playing games. Nobody has pulled out. From time to time the physiotherapist takes fitness tests and we have gone by those reports and the recommendations given to the board. And we go by the board's directive about who should be rested, if anybody has injury problems. Those things are in black and white paper. Those things need not be shown to you, they are all internal matters."
Then, to reiterate the point, he said: "I can assure you that nobody has been dropped."
The questions continued and Srikkanth, a bit ruffled by now, said he could not answer the same question "in different forms". When a television reporter, standing to Srikkanth's immediate left, asked why Sehwag was not called back to India if there were doubts about his fitness, Srikkanth retorted, "Boss, you just shut up now. You don't talk like that now. We are talking about fitness. I know what you are implying. If you throw various googlies at me I will get angry, too. I know what to say. We are talking simple and straight, keep it that way. [In Hindi] If you try and finger me, do you expect me to stay quiet?"
Recovering his poise and his typical ebullience, Srikkanth wrapped up the briefing by saying he was confident India would finish on a positive note. "Sometimes you get going, sometimes you don't get going. Overall things have been quite okay and I don't think we should really worry about it. You have to accept the fact the last three years was a golden period for Indian cricket: India became No.1 in Test cricket, almost became No.1 in the ODI cricket, won the World Cup after 28 years. Then, of course, we went to England and got battered a bit because of injury problems. In Australia, honestly speaking, I expected to win the Test series. Probably the batting did not click properly at all. But anyway, at least in the ODIs we are fighting, and I hope we enter the final and win the final by God's grace."
Edited by Jayaditya Gupta
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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