India v Sri Lanka, 4th ODI, Kolkata December 23, 2009

Sehwag urges youngsters to grab opportunities

Cricinfo staff
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Virender Sehwag, standing in as captain for MS Dhoni for one more ODI, is hoping his more inexperienced players pull their weight in the absence of two proven matchwinners. With Dhoni missing, and Yuvraj Singh injured, Sehwag has urged the new generation of players in the squad to take advantage of India's predicament in an attempt to test out the resources with an eye on the 2011 World Cup.

"When the series is going on the team has to play the matches, irrespective of who is in or out. Definitely, we will miss their services but we have to look at our other options," he said in Kolkata. "The youngsters are getting an opportunity to play for their country and if they do well and make a mark it's good for the team as well. The bench strength will get stronger and stronger."

"With [the] 2011 World Cup coming up, if players like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma get [an] opportunity to play and get runs, our bench strength improves."

Dinesh Karthik kept wicket in Cuttack and will get another shot to do so in tomorrow's game, with Dhoni due back after serving a two-match ban for slow over rates in Nagpur. Bengal's Manoj Tiwary has been called into the squad as a reserve player for the fourth ODI. Yuvraj is also in doubt for next month's Bangladesh tri-series, and Rohit is a strong candidate following his triple-century for Mumbai during the Ranji Trophy last season. Kohli, who stepped in for Yuvraj in the first two ODIs against Sri Lanka and scored 54 in the second, was termed a "truly special player" by Sehwag.

"He had played very well in the Champions Trophy," he said. "Hopefully he will become a star of the future. We are all looking forward to him."

Trevor Bayliss, Sri Lanka's coach, has urged his squad's batsmen to step up as the visitors aim to cash in on Dhoni and Yuvraj's absence. "In the last game, probably for the first time in the series, we did not bat well. We did not score enough runs," he said. "If we had scored in an excess of 300, which we we were looking at one stage of the match, we would have had a fair chance of winning that match.

"So we have to get back to scoring runs so that we can put pressure on the opposition. It does not matter what team you are. If you are under pressure, you will lose wickets. Good sides make their own luck. I don't think there would be any different."

India lead 2-1 with two games to go and a win at the Eden Gardens will seal the contest their way.