Colombo: The first man into the team bus today morning was Virender Sehwag.
Even as the rest of the players took their time eating breakfast, Sehwag walked out of the lift, straight into the team bus — before Duncan Fletcher and the rest of the coaching staff; even before Mahendra Singh Dhoni — who was the next player to make it to the team bus.
He could not have been happy. Dhoni had requested ‘Viru Pa’ and a few of the seniors to sit out the match against England. But it now seems like the sitting out is going to be extended.
After warming-up with the team, he sat in the last row of the team tent at the Colts Cricket Club in Colombo. He didn’t move, he did not put on the pads either and was virtually a spectator for most part. In the lead-up to the England game, Dhoni had confirmed that Sehwag has no injury issues, so that is unlikely to be the cause.
The only time he made it anywhere close to the crease was with two bats in hand. He was there for a few minutes before walking back to the team tent and then didn’t move from his chair till the end of the session when he was taken in for a dope test.
It’s rather odd though. If you have a batsman out of form, you would want him to bat in the nets, get a feel of the ball hitting the middle of his bat, to get the feet moving. But there was nothing of the sort and you have to wonder why.
R Ashwin took to the nets first and had a pretty long session with the bat. But then normal order was resumed. Irfan Pathan and Gautam Gambhir took their places side-by-side and batted for pretty long.
Next in were Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Followed by Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But there was no batting for Yuvraj Singh either.
The reason for Sehwag sitting out and looking pretty sulky might be that the Indian team management has decided to give Irfan another go at the opening slot. In the match against England, Pathan had looked ill-at-ease against the pace of Steve Finn and he is likely to get more of the same treatment against South Africa and Australia.
Indeed, an in-form Sehwag against Australia and South Africa would have probably been one of the first names on the team list. He knows how to use the pace very well. But perhaps the current situation is an indication of his mental state.
Sulking isn’t going to help him, impressing in the nets will.
Having Irfan, as opener, gives the team a better balance, and the option to play five bowlers without sacrificing one of the in-form middle order batsmen. Sehwag doesn’t bowl much these days – so along with Gautam Gambhir, he has become the only two one dimensional players in team. Everyone else can contribute in at least two aspects of the game.
Note: The Indian team was dope tested today. R Ashwin, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag were taken in for dope testing.