Rift in Team India? Virender Sehwag takes a dig at Dhoni

The controversial rotation policy, which has sparked off a heated debate among critics and led to speculation of a rift within the team, got another twist on Tuesday with Virender Sehwag saying he did not know that fielding was the reason behind the rotation at the top order.

Updated: February 22, 2012 13:17 IST
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Brisbane: The controversial rotation policy, which has sparked off a heated debate among critics and led to speculation of a rift within the team, got another twist on Tuesday with Virender Sehwag saying he did not know that fielding was the reason behind the rotation at the top order.

In an apparent dig at skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Sehwag said that he or any of the senior players had never been told that their 'slow fielding' was an issue. (Also Read: Sachin should quit playing ODIs: Ganguly)

"I did not know what he (Dhoni) said and what's going on in media. He told us he wanted to give chance to youngsters who had come here and play the next World Cup. That's what he told us," said Sehwag.

Dhoni, after the crushing defeat against Australia on Sunday, had stated that the three senior openers - Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir - were not being picked together in the tournament because they are slow fielders and could cost the side at least 20 runs.

"Have you seen my catch?" Sehwag snapped back in response, adding "we have been fielding the same way for the last 10 years."

Sehwag was again pressed as to what he thought could be the reasons for Dhoni to suggest that they were costing the team 20 runs in the field.

"But you have to ask Dhoni again. What he told us was to give chance to youngsters and come here and play the next World Cup. That was what he told us," said Sehwag.

"He chatted with everyone, with Gautam and me and Tendulkar, he (said) he wanted to give chance to youngsters so they can play all the matches and prepare themselves for the next World Cup. They would have an idea how the wicket behaves in Australia," he said.

Asked if he would clear the air with Dhoni, Sehwag retorted, "Why should I have chat with him? He is the captain and leader. If he and coach think they need to give break to top order, I am okay with it, I have no problem with it."

"I am available for all the matches. It depends on the captain and coach what 11 they pick. If they give me a reason that we are giving chance to youngsters and we take a break, I am happy with that," he said.

Despite his candid statements, Sehwag, however, denied any rift within the team.

"We are one unit, we are happy. He (Dhoni) is the captain, he can say whatever he wants to say. He addresses the media, has been doing it for the last two years, and we are okay with it," he said.

Talking about Tuesday's match, Sehwag did not find fault with his bowlers but rather blamed the batsmen, including himself for their shot-selection as the team went down by 51 runs against Sri Lanka.

"The last two games are a must-win games and we have to look at our shot selection. Its a matter of playing 50 overs. If they (Raina and Kohli) had batted till the 45th over, it would have been a different story. Nobody batted till the end," he said.

On Ravichandran Ashwin's attempt to run out non-striker Lahiru Thirimanne for backing up too much, Sehwag said, "I think Ashwin warned him once in the previous over and then in next over. He took the bails off and appealed, umpires discussed and asked me. I said we could give him one more warning and if he does it again, we will go for that.

"Ashwin did appeal. Umpires consulted. Since Billy Bowden was the senior umpire he asked me and discussed with me. He said it's your call now, if you appeal now, we can give him out. I took the decision that we could give him one more warning.

"If we appealed and umpires gave him out, then somebody would criticize that it was not in the spirit of the game. So we gave him one more warning."

Sehwag admitted it was rather 'soft' on his and his team's part not to press for the run-out appeal.

"Yes, that's soft but that's the way we are," he reasoned.

He also conceded that he needs to sort out his own batting as well.

"Obviously, we are not giving good starts. I couldn't score runs. I have to look at my own shot selection. I need to give little more time to myself and then I can play my shots.

"I am hitting well but not converting. I am getting out in funny way, like flicking to point. I am hoping to leave (deliveries) early and then take on the bowlers," he said.

Sehwag lately has been getting out by closing the face of his bat too early and offering leading edges to fielders.

On this, he said, "I think the ball is not coming fast and that's why I am closing the face of the bat early."

Youngsters also haven't fired consistently and Sehwag admitted Dhoni, India's most consistent batsman in the tri-series, was missed greatly on Tuesday.

"It's a matter of playing 50 overs. When the main player (Dhoni) is not playing, and Yuvraj is also not there, somebody has to take the responsibility and take us through.

"They (young players) are working hard. It's difficult to explain (their failure). Australia is not easy batting wickets. There are two new balls, it's difficult for everyone. Others are also struggling.

"It's a difficult phase for the team. All the batsmen are not scoring runs, except Dhoni, Kohli and Gautam. These three are consistent batsmen. If you have to win one-day games, at least 4-5 batsmen have to bat till the end, score a century. If the top order bats through, it becomes easier for middle order too," Sehwag said.

Sehwag also explained his reason to give the final two overs to Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli to bowl and and why Ravindra Jadeja came above Parthiv Patel in the batting line-up.

"Since Vinay Kumar pulled his hamstring, that's why I turned to Raina and Kohli. Patel will not play the next game. It was good for Jadeja to bat, we wanted him to bat 15-16 overs since he would be playing again.

"Zaheer is feeling some strain in the calf. Praveen is fully fit though," he added.

"Umesh bowled brilliantly against the West Indies. He also bowled in Tests. We need some time for bowlers to get used to," said Sehwag defending his bowlers who conceded 289 runs to the Lankans.

Sehwag said the rotation policy could allow youngsters to play more and more matches.

"We have to rotate and give more chance to youngsters. Before the World Cup, I told MS (Dhoni) that if youngsters play 100 games, they get good experience and fire at the right time.

"It's better all players are tried in the early part of the triangular series. Then in the last matches you can play your full strength, play all your top players. I think it's a good strategy. But sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't," he said.

Sehwag said that he was not surprised at the out-of-form Ricky Ponting being dropped from the Australian side.

"We were expecting as a team to sack him for the Test series. They have sacked him a little later. It's for everyone. If you don't perform 6-7 games, you get ready for sack, I am not surprised," he said.

"He (Ponting) has to decide (on retirement). I am no one to decide or comment on that. He knows better than anyone else."

Watch: Sehwag takes a dig at Dhoni

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