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Sehwag 'hurt' by his ouster from India team

A couple of months after announcing his retirement, Virender Sehwag has said he was "hurt" by the manner in which he was dropped from the Indian team in 2013. Speaking exclusively to ESPNcricinfo in Delhi, Sehwag revealed he learnt of his axe from the newspapers and the decision wasn't communicated to him by the selectors, team management or BCCI.

"I hadn't scored runs in two Tests against Australia," Sehwag said. "So, I was thinking I would get a couple of more opportunities to perform well in the last two Tests [of the series] and then get dropped if I didn't perform. If the selectors would have given me that option to play two more Tests and then retire."

Sehwag was left out after the second Test against Australia in Hyderabad in March 2013 after failing to post a half-century in eight innings. He returned to domestic cricket but failed to make a case compelling enough for a national recall. In 20 Ranji trophy matches for Delhi and Haryana since his last Test, Sehwag scored 1269 runs at an average just under 40 with three centuries. Sehwag admitted that it took him a while to adjust to playing on the domestic circuit after having had a long international career.

"When I got dropped, I was thinking that I'm a good player and can get back into the Indian team but I was still living in the mindset that I am an aggressive opener and can score runs but I did not realise that domestic cricket is totally different to international cricket and I was still playing in the same way," he said. "I did not score runs that [2013-14] season and my highest was 50-odd [56] and I was struggling to cope up with [conditions in] Delhi.

"I then changed my thinking next year and batting style by giving myself a little more time and I scored 500 plus runs, but I needed to score that in the previous season and maybe I would have gotten back into the team. It was too late but I was playing because I wanted to play the game."

Sehwag is widely regarded as one of the greatest opening batsmen of the modern era, but he was quite candid about his desire to play in the middle order towards the end of his career. Despite the retirements of Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, Sehwag was never offered that option.

"I told the management [about wanting to bat lower down] but they felt that I was still good enough to play as an opener and they didn't want to take chances with the opening pair. I tried my best but could not get an opportunity in the middle order," he said. "When I played my last series, Tendulkar was still there, Kohli and Dhoni were there. Pujara was playing as the No. 3 batsman. Tendulkar was playing at 4, Kohli at 5 and it meant that I had to bat at No. 6 after Tendulkar as you could not ask him to bat at No. 3 or 5. So, there was no chance for me to bat in the middle order."

While Sehwag retired with an impressive Test record, his performances outside the subcontinent were inconsistent. Some knocks like the 195 at MCG in 2003 are considered modern day classics, but overall Sehwag averaged just 35.84 in 36 Tests and made just 5 of his 23 Test centuries outside Asia. He conceded that as an area he struggled to match his peers in.

"You don't think of these things when you play," he said. "When you retire, you look back and see that my Test average outside Asia is 40 and it is 49 overall. If I can change something, I'd like to change that average outside Asia. I tried as hard as I could outside Asia but I couldn't do that. I gave my best but didn't score as much as I can. Dravid, Tendulkar, Sourav and Laxman did it and scored hundreds as well."

The full interview with Virender Sehwag will be available on January 6