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'It's time to play for Virender Sehwag'

Nagraj Gollapudi and Gaurav Kalra

March 18, 2014

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Virender Sehwag has admitted he was "disappointed" when Delhi Daredevils did not buy him at the IPL auction. Sehwag, whose run of bad form has stretched to nearly two years now, has made it clear he will not use the IPL as a platform to prove a point to the Indian selectors or anyone in the team management. Despite the absence of credible innings in the recent past Sehwag said he had "two to three years" of shelf life still left in him.

Sehwag, who was an icon player and a former captain at Daredevils, was not retained by the franchise, which also did not utilise the right-to-match card during the IPL player auction in February. Sehwag, who is part of the top-ten run-makers in the tournament was eventually bought by Kings XI Punjab for a bargain price of INR 3.2 crore at the auction.

"I am okay with that because that decision on Sehwag was a professional one and not personal," Sehwag told ESPNCricinfo on Tuesday, during a phone conversation organised by Kings XI Punjab. "They [Daredevils] wanted to build a team of new players. Yes, I am disappointed a little bit because you know I played six years for Delhi Daredevils. I became an icon player. But things happened and things change."

Virender Sehwag was dismissed for 19 by Nathan Lyon, India v Australia, 1st Test, Chennai, 5th day, February 26, 2013
Despite a poor run stretching back nearly two years, Virender Sehwag remains confident and says he still has "2-3 years left". © BCCI

Sehwag had experienced a wretched loss of form during the Ranji Trophy, and managed only one half-century in seven matches (13 innings, 234 runs, average 19.50, highest score of 56) as Delhi failed to progress past the league stage. In the zonal stage of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic ODI tournament) Sehwag once again failed, scoring 25 runs in two matches for Delhi.

"The season was not good for me because we played on green wickets, little damp pitches," Sehwag said. "I was not able to score big runs (although) I was getting starts and just got one fifty in seven games. It was disappointing."

Sehwag, however, said he had not lost hope and the IPL would provide him another opportunity to bounce back into form. "You have to keep fighting," he said. "Keep hoping that the next match I play I will score runs. I am just hoping the IPL this year will be good for me."

Sehwag disagreed that he needed a successful IPL to prove anything to the Indian selectors and team management . "I don't have to show to anybody because it is time to play for Virender Sehwag or for Kings XI Punjab," he said. "If I perform well people will watch and discuss my name again. But if I go with this mindset that I show to the selectors and management then I don't think I will be able to perform. Then I will be putting pressure on myself. I played enough matches to show (what I can do) to the people, to the world. It is time to play for myself. It is time to play the IPL well. My job is to win the games for my franchise."

Sehwag in the IPL (stats by Shiva Jayaraman)

  • Virender Sehwag is one of the five most impactful players in the IPL, going by the number of Man-of-the-Match awards he has won. Sehwag, along with MS Dhoni and Michael Hussey, has won it 10 times. Only Chris Gayle and Yusuf Pathan have won more Man-of-the-Match awards.
  • Sehwag's strike rate of 160.32 in the IPL is the best among players who have scored a minimum of 500 runs in the tournament. Gayle is a close second at 160.20.
  • Sehwag is among the ten highest run-getters in the IPL
  • Sehwag has 16 fifty-plus scores in the IPL, and is joint-sixth on the overall list. Gautam Gambhir and Gayle head that list with 20 fifty-plus scores each.
  • Sehwag has hit 351 boundaries in the IPL, the third highest after Suresh Raina (354) and Chris Gayle (384).

Sehwag denied that his explosive style of play might have contributed to his failures. "Style does not matter," he said. "The important things is how I use my experience to score runs, how I weigh up the conditions, what kind of wicket I am batting on, how I am shaping up are factors that matter more. But style of my play does not matter because if there is a ball to hit I will try to hit it as I have been doing for the last 15 years."

During the home Test series against Australia, shortly before he was dropped, Sehwag was diagnosed with astigmatism and wore glasses while batting. His eyesight, Sehwag said, was posing his batting no problems.

"When I was playing a Test against Australia I had a lot of headaches and pain," he said. "I met a couple of doctors and was told to wear glasses or contact lenses because I have some minus .5 number which is cylindrical. If you have a cylindrical number you have to wear glasses otherwise you will get high pain, so I was not able to concentrate. I played IPL with contact lenses, but now the issue is not eyes. I am okay with that."

Sehwag is 35 years old and critics have started to cast doubts about his future. But the man himself remained confident. "I should not regret anything," he said. "The amount of matches I have played, more than 100 Tests and more than 200 ODIs - I don't regret anything. I have 2-3 years left. I can play 2-3 seasons and I am working towards that."

Sehwag said it was not just experience he had to offer to the teams he would be part of, be it India or his IPL franchise. "The batting and the kind of style I have, that I can offer to any team," he said. "I have scored two triple centuries and six double hundreds so I know how to score big runs. It is just a matter of one big innings and after that I hope I can keep scoring big runs. In T20 there are only 120 balls of which you get to bat 50-60 at the most, so how many runs can you score in that time."

In his time out of the national side, Sehwag says he has been watching India matches "like a spectator".

"I keep praying that we will do well and India wins the games rather than be worried about myself," he said. "At the end of the day, India winning is what matters rather than being worried about who should play."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Gaurav Kalra is a senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Johnny_129 on (March 22, 2014, 15:49 GMT)

Sehwag - What a player, a World Cup winner and a living legend!! This is a man who played for the team. Sehwag was a street smart batsman with great hand-eye coordination - Such players are great at their peak but struggle (more than solid technicians) when they age - Sehwag's best days have passed. But Indian fans please take heed from Sehwag's final quote in this article, "India winning is what matters rather than being worried about who should play."

Posted by SachisKing on (March 20, 2014, 15:10 GMT)

Its MSD politics. You have to be from Jharkhand or CSK these days to get into the Indian team playing XI. Time for MSD to manage his companies and leave cricket leadership to the younger ones like Virat, Yuvi and the rest.

Posted by Dada Army on (March 20, 2014, 9:39 GMT)

Viru, still I believe in you. I am amazed with your batting skills and scoring ability. One word I would like to remember you as always said in press conferences fear factor, I want you to play without fear you will rock, I want to see some of unique shots , a cut on the point from your flashing blad, hit over the bowlers head and a down the track maximum.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2014, 6:00 GMT)

Sehwag needs to do two things. 1) Undertake similar training to what Yuvraj and Zaheer went through at Brive La Gaillarde, with Tim Exter. It will help him get into much more fitter shape, and stronger. 2) He needs to spend some time at least a season with county cricket in England or Australia( even now! he is complaining about green and damp pitches). This will help him regain his coordination, strength,concentration and most importantly his confidence.

Posted by   on (March 20, 2014, 4:08 GMT)

The only player opponent teams feared that is sehwag n he is not in the team so ridiculous players like rohit, shikhar get backed up despite failure I think sehwag still has capablity to make opponent sweat to get him out n score big runs in test matches n I believe he should be appointed as test captain n dhoni retain his odi n t20.dhoni wants to quit one format anyway

Posted by switchgrind68 on (March 19, 2014, 17:06 GMT)

The Viru chapter seems to be more politics than sports. He did go through a rough phase, so are a some players in the current squad, yet there is no 'action' taken. The current situation of Indian Cricket definitely calls for a high impact player like Virender Sehwag to make a comeback, provided he gets back in to blazing form. He knows his game best and only he knows how much cricket he has left in him.

Posted by   on (March 19, 2014, 12:18 GMT)

As Sehwag said he is having two or three years left for sure. India don't have dangerous opener like him right now. I think his confident level has been increased. Lets see how Sehwag do in this year's IPL.

Posted by   on (March 19, 2014, 12:07 GMT)

Sehwag's game is over unless he seriously works on his front foot technique.

Too many bolds, lbws & getting late on indipper is just not f9 for a test level batsman.


Posted by Sir_Francis on (March 19, 2014, 10:16 GMT)

At 35 I suspect he may still have a bit left, maybe not at the Test level but the lower levels.

As for the comments about Gilchrist, his form had plummeted over quite some time, not just one bad test. In fact, over his last 28 tests his averaged dropped from 55.65 to finally, 47.60. So he lost 8 runs in under 3 years. That's quite a long dip in form. He averaged 30.21 in those 28 tests. A lot of other players would have been dropped before then.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (March 19, 2014, 10:06 GMT)

I fear Viru's international career is now over. Sehwag is a player who completely relies on hand-eye coordination. His reflexes have now slowed and unlike Sachin, who increasingly relied on techniques as he aged, Sehwag just doesn't have a solid technique to fall back upon.

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