December 9, 2007

Where's Viru?

India have missed a trick by not naming Sehwag in the preliminary squad for Australia

India have made their first big mistake and the team hasn't even been selected, let alone set foot on Australian soil.

As the gambler says, "You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." Now was not the right time to give up on Virender Sehwag. His selection for Australia would have been a gamble worth taking. Forget about whose nose might have been put out of joint, the Australians still fear Sehwag from the last tour, and it's rarely that you have a chance to put one over on the Baggy Green caps, so when the opportunity arises, you grab it with both hands.

Sure, Sehwag isn't in the form he was during the 2003-04 tour. However, he did rip 195 off the Australian bowlers at the MCG back then, and that blazing knock included 25 fours and five sixes, and he only faced 233 deliveries. If he hadn't holed out to a full-toss from part-timer Simon Katich, attempting to hit his sixth six, he would easily have scored 200 on the first day of a Test against a decent Australian attack. There are very few batsmen with the ability to open the innings and score 200 on the first day of a Test, and without that hiccup at the MCG, Sehwag would have achieved the feat twice.

More importantly, Brett Lee was in that bowling attack. Nowadays, Lee is the spearhead of a revamped Australian attack, and having stepped into Glenn McGrath's large boots, he seems to have also borrowed some of McGrath's ideas, as he is now bowling with a lot more accuracy. However, in his former role as a tearaway, Lee was always susceptible to an attack from an aggressive batsman: he would revert to bowling bouncers and yorkers in an attempt to dismiss the player, and often runs would flow in torrents.

If for no other reason, India should have played Sehwag against Australia just to see if he could rattle Lee and force him to forget the McGrath impersonations. Sure, you might have to disrupt a settled and successful Indian side, and that is generally not a good idea, but this was a time to gamble, to not only hold the ace but to then go ahead and thump it down on the table.

I'll bet Anil Kumble, as a bowler who understands what a disruptive force like Sehwag can do to an opponent, would have been happy to handle any diplomatic issues arising from a controversial selection. Once a captain understands that all the wins and losses go against his name and not those of the selectors, he will push for the best team with which to clinch victory. If he doesn't, he's either foolish or too good-natured, and neither disposition is a recipe for successful captaincy.

A captain only needs to answer one question concerning the selection of a batsman: "Can he get me a hundred?" If the answer is yes, he's in the team and then it's up to the captain to handle any personality clashes within the side.

In Sehwag's case the answer is even more straightforward for the captain. He can not only score a Test hundred, he can also do it in a hurry and against new-ball bowlers. The batsman's role is to score quickly in order to give the bowlers as long as possible to take the required 20 wickets to win a Test. Sehwag's batting leaves you with more time than a flight that arrives early.

The selectors should at least have chosen Sehwag in the preliminary squad of 24. That way the Australians would have had to include him in any preparatory discussions on how to bowl to the Indians. And then the Indians should have gone the next step and included him in the touring party. Not only would the Australians have been confronted by a potential match-winner, but his selection for a tour where he's had previous success may just have rekindled the fire in Sehwag's belly.

To not select Sehwag in a squad of 24 doesn't make any sense, either on the score of ability or in the psychological stakes. India has folded when they had the perfect opportunity to bluff; that's not the way to win - at cards or cricket.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aditya on December 11, 2007, 22:05 GMT

    I don't like the way Chappell has said "first big mistake" but I agree that Sehwag should be in the squad and allowed the chance for a comeback. He doesn't usually look out of form, his only problem is his inability to go on sometimes after reaching 30-40 in quick time. But if you are looking to upset the Australian fast bowling early, he is the right choice. Ideally an opening pair should be composed of a defensive player and an aggressive player. If Jaffer can hold up an end then Sehwag can be a good attacking option at the other end. I don't know whether Dravid will be able to assume this mantle.

  • Grudge on December 11, 2007, 17:08 GMT

    Wow! Lot of different opinions with a little bit of truth in almost every comment.I am not a big fan of Ian, just because he supports his brother. Well, that's a different issue, but he sure has a keen eye on the game. Whom to have in the playing 11 can be decided after watchin the team in the nets. But it is the selectors job to Kumble that option. In the top 16, I would say Sehwag is a may be. But in the top 24, c'mon he deserves a place in there more than a lot of people. And ari, you want to expose Yuvi to the Aussie new ball? you have got to be kidding me. He is too precious right now to do that. Now, India might train him to an attacking opener but no gambling with his precious wicket in Australia man. India has a good chance of winning this test, irrespective of what Ian thinks.

  • Ajay on December 11, 2007, 15:48 GMT

    Hello Mr. Chappell. I totally agree with you on havin Sehwag in the team. He was an absolute essential going by the track record he has against the Ozzies. The Indian Selectors are doing a miserable job. We all know that Sehwag can be used as an OPENER.. Especially now when All India needs is a good opener to partner Wasim Jaffer, Sehwag is the perfect option cuz no ther opener has impressed as much anyways.. I Hope sum1 reads this and it makes a difference..

  • AJAY on December 11, 2007, 15:07 GMT

    there is no question of disagreeing.sehwag should be in the flight to australia.he is a proven performer in someone said earlier in the forum,his last eight test match hundreds are more than 150 scores including 2 double hundreds and one triple hundred.forget india,how many batsman in the world were able to do it...simply no one.his 12 hundreds as an opener are just after sunil gavaskar.people talking about-his feets are not moving-does not understand cricket.his loss of form in one day cricket has been given as an excuse for ouster in test match cricket which is absurd.dinesh kartik and others have been given ample run to regain form but deserving sehwag has been ignored and forgotten.the present indian good batting line up can not become dangerous and intimidating without addition of sehwag for connoisseur of cricket, sehwag used to give same thrill and pleasure of watching attacking cricket which k.srikant used to give one and half decades back.

  • KALYANASUNDARAM on December 11, 2007, 8:05 GMT

    I fully agree with Ian. On any day Viru is a matchwinner. You need to be aggressive against Aussies right from the word go. Only aggressive openers will give some momentum to the innings, otherwise we will be in the backfoot from ball number one. Selectors and fans tend to mix Viru's form in one day and Test. His test match form never was bad enough to be dropped.

  • Achint on December 11, 2007, 7:25 GMT

    Quite dicey. Viru no doubt is the batsman who will scored once in six innings, but with that one inning he will win you a Test match, but the Delhi-dasher is woefully out of sorts. He is just looking a pale shdaow of himself, and for once he has also started to doubt his own abilities. WHile playing in an ODI in Mohali against Pakistan, Viru looked like a batsman who is not just playing against Pakistan but also Indian selectors. When you go in with such a mindset the chances of you coming good are miniscule. Viru needs to speak to Sourav Ganguly. The former skipper has played a pivotal role in Sehwag coming upto this level, and Ganguly's own expriences can motivate Viru to look for right path to redemption. It needs determination, it needs discpline and most of all it needs dedication from Nazafgarh-lad to make a comeback and strike it hard. Hailing from Haryana, he should draw a lot of inspiration from the desi attitude of his tribe. He needs to be happy in himself to succeed.

  • SHAKTI on December 11, 2007, 2:48 GMT

    It is really an absurd idea to even think about Yuvraj Singh opening for India in test. He is a middle order batsman and he should stay there. forgot what happened to VVS Laxman as an opener? He find it hard to play his natural game. There is no comparison between Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh as one is an opener and one is a middle order bat. But yes they both are genuine match winners. Sehwag will defintiely bounce back because there is still a lot of cricket left in him. He is just 29 and his prime is yet to come. All those who thinks Yuvraj Singh should open, all those who think Sehwag is not a force any more and all those who thinks Ian Chapell is wrong when he points out that Sehwag should be there for Australia go and refresh your cricketing knowledge.

  • AXEL on December 11, 2007, 0:40 GMT

    If Karthik and Jaffer and hopping around on Dec 26 at The M.C.G, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson will destroy them. If Jaffer and Khartik both fail, that's it, end of story, the trend will continue throughout the series. How many Indiand have scored 195 in a day during a Boxing Day Test? How many Indians have made twelve hundreds including a triple ton? Sehwag simply must be there. I still think it's irrelevant though as India have no fire power in their bowling. Expect a few draws with a few 5-700 declared score cards, as there is no real pace, plus Singh and Kumble struggle down under.

  • Nishant on December 10, 2007, 21:38 GMT

    I could not agree more. I was hoping that he would get picked for test series against Pakistan as well. Pakistan is another opponent he has excelled against. I would go even further and question the logic to drop hom from the test team. Barring Hayden's consistent slaughtering of opposition bowlers, I have not seen another batsman that induces so much fear in bowlers. And I don't even remember if his performances in test were ever so ordinary to drop him. Even though the team is doing fairly okay at the moment, Sehwag would have given me a great deal of confidence about our chances of beating Ausies, however slim. The best this team can do now is to draw the series.

  • ankush on December 10, 2007, 21:18 GMT

    i am strongly agree with ian chappel...we do need sehwag against australian team specially brett lee. now sachin is to old to make quick runs to put pressure on bowlers but sehwag can do that he can make fastest century...if there is no sehwag i am sure india will los this series wasim jaffer, chopra and gambhir these opners dont have experience and they are not good enough to play against brett lee....sehwag rocks!!! sehwag rocks !!!!! i want sehwag rocks!!! to see in MCG hitting big sixes!!!

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