Gavaskar says Yuvraj and Sehwag down but not out

Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag gesture during a practice session AFP

Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh have had difficult domestic seasons after being sidelined from the national team, and with the flourishing of a younger bunch of batsmen, their international future looks shaky. Sunil Gavaskar, though, has said both can still force their way back into the Indian team.

In his bid to return, Sehwag has shifted down to the middle order - where he began his career - after a profitable decade as opener. The results, though, have been poor: his fast-bowling team-mate Ashish Nehra has similar batting statistics over the Ranji season.

Yuvraj has been through similarly wretched form, troubled by the pace of Mitchell Johnson during the home ODI series against Australia last year, before extending his lean run in the matches against West Indies and South Africa. The runs haven't returned in three Ranji matches since either.

"(In) Cricket, nothing is impossible," Gavaskar said during the Ranji quarterfinal in Mumbai. "You have one good season, one outstanding season, you can come back. It is up to Yuvraj to show that he has got the burning desire for it. I think he has. And he has just had a bad season. Hopefully he could come back because he adds so much to the Indian team because he is still a top fielder and his spinners does help pick wickets.

"Sehwag also, nothing is impossible in cricket. It is up to these guys to come back with not just hundreds but double hundreds and stuff like that."

Gavaskar, India's greatest Test opener, suggested Sehwag, India's best Test opener after him, could try rediscovering his touch by moving back to the top of the order. "I think he is more happy with the ball coming on to the bat. If you have opened the batting for such a long time, it is a little bit difficult waiting in the dressing room, waiting for your turn to go to bat. The best move for him would be to go back to opening. The new ball will come on to the bat, he can try and score off it. The other thing is that clever captains will confront him with spin straightaway."

One of the seniors who has made a comeback after a year out of the Indian team is Zaheer Khan. The national selection chief, Sandeep Patil, was watching the Ranji quarterfinals in Mumbai, possibly to track Zaheer's progress. None of the members of the Indian squad whose teams are in the quarterfinals is playing: Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Stuart Binny and Mohammed Shami are set to leave for New Zealand on the final day of the match. Gavaskar echoed Rahul Dravid's views that the six players could have played the Ranji knockout match.

"It would have been fantastic to have the guys play in the quarter-finals," Gavaskar said. "If they could have played and left the day the quarter-final finishes, for example the team is leaving on 11th night/12th morning the three-four players could have left on 12th night/13th morning because the first match is on the 19th. I know you lose a day going into New Zealand but it would have still given them enough time.

"This is India's No. 1 tournament. The more competitive it is, the higher the standard and the better the feedback for the selection committee to be able to see when the teams are playing the best and against the best, it is always a good indication for the selectors."