India news February 22, 2012

No rift in team, Sehwag 'misquoted' - Rajiv Shukla

The BCCI top brass have denied reports of an alleged rift in the Indian team, saying that the media have taken an "exaggerated" stand in the wake of stand-in captain Virender Sehwag's contentious comments following India's defeat to Sri Lanka on Tuesday. Sehwag had said that he was unaware that one of reasons MS Dhoni wanted to rotate the three openers (Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir) was because he feared they would leak at least 20 runs in the field.

"I don't think there is any rift within the team," Rajiv Shukla, the BCCI vice-president who was meeting with other board officials in Mumbai at the IPL governing council meet, said. "It is only speculation by a section of the media. The team is united. So I don't think there is a problem."

Shukla said the board was constantly in touch with the team management. "From what we have understood, Sehwag has been misquoted."

Sehwag had lead India against Sri Lanka in the absence of Dhoni, who was serving a one-match ban for not meeting the required over-rate in the previous game against Australia. In the post-match media conference, speaking on the rotation policy, Sehwag said that Dhoni had had chats with him, Tendulkar and Gambhir individually, telling them that the young players in the squad should get enough exposure in Australian conditions, keeping in mind that the next World Cup will be played in Australia and New Zealand. Sehwag said he was fine with that reasoning, but was unaware that Dhoni had said, after the February 19 match against Australia, that he could not fit all three openers into the XI because of their slowness in the field. That statement sparked speculation in the media, raising the question as to whether there was a divide in the team.

The BCCI president, N Srinivasan, said there was nothing to be "concerned" about. "We have to see what exactly they [Sehwag and Dhoni] have said. They were responding to some question in a press conference. I have spoken to the media manager there [in Australia]. I think the reports here are exaggerated."

Asked if the pair of Duncan Fletcher and Dhoni had informed the board of their plans to try out the younger players and adopt the rotation policy, Shukla said that matter was entirely the decision of the tour selection committee, comprising the captain, coach and team manager. "It is for the coach and captain to decide on the team composition," Shukla said.

Edited by Nikita Bastian

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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