Sehwag backs Indian youngsters
India's misfiring young batsmen are getting plenty of support from their seniors. Two days after captain MS Dhoni said he was not too concerned about the batting collapses in the Dambulla tri-series, Virender Sehwag has also backed his less-experienced team-mates to deliver.
The quartet of Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have managed just 94 runs between them through the tournament. But India are still in the final, on the back of two solo efforts from Sehwag which led to two victories.
"When I was a youngster, it took me almost 50 to 70 innings to perform consistently, so we have to give more time to youngsters," Sehwag said. "We are not worried about them too much because in Dambulla, everybody's not scoring. We have to live with that and give youngsters some confidence and tell them to go out and spend some time at the wicket."
India's batsmen have kept the opposition wicketkeepers and slip fielders busy, giving up nearly half their wickets to catches in that area. Dhoni had called for his batsmen to be more decisive with their stroke-selection, particularly to balls outside off. However, on Wednesday two of India's top-order batsmen, Karthik and Kohli, fell wafting at precisely such deliveries.
"It's very easy to say that you should leave the ball or hit it according to its merit but it's very difficult to react according to the merit of the ball," Sehwag said. "When we were young, it would have been confusing whether to hit or leave. It used to be tempting to hit and we used to get out in that confusion. It's important to either leave or play the balls outside off rather than defending them."
Sehwag, the only batsman from any of the three sides to come to terms with the seam and swing in Dambulla, advised caution in the early stages of the innings. India's scores after 15 overs in their league matches were 54 for 5, 47 for 3, 56 for 3 and 81 for 4.
"If you see off the first 10-15 overs, it becomes easier to bat. But those first few overs are difficult to survive," he said. "If you see off the new ball [even] without scoring much in the first 15 overs, it helps the team a lot."
Saturday's final could well be the last chance for the likes of Kohli and Rohit to press for a permanent place in the side, as senior batsmen including Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir could return to the one-day team for the home series against Australia in October.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo