Virender Sehwag will not play the Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the Board for Control of Cricket in India says he has been rested on fitness grounds. Is that a euphemism? For there are reports that the swashbuckling opener is paying the price for not following BCCI orders to issue a joint statement after his public spat with captain MS Dhoni recently. (Also Read: Boss, Shut up, says angry Srikkanth to reporters)
The 15-member squad for the Asia Cup announced on Wednesday did not feature Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. Chief selector Kris Srikkanth emphasised that the only reason for this was fitness. Repeated questioning about Sehwag being dropped in fact saw Srikkanth flare up and say, "Asking the same question in different ways will not get you a different answer. It is the honest truth. I am not giving any other reason. The players have been rested on injury grounds. That is a promise. I cannot show you the medical reports because it is an internal matter." (Also Read: I would have had more changes in the team, says Gavaskar)
There are reports that after senior players Dhoni and Sehwag disagreed in public a few weeks ago, the BCCI sought to limit damage by asking them to issue a joint statement to the media. While skipper Dhoni reportedly agreed to do so, Sehwag reportedly said no.Â (Also see: Dhoni vs Sehwag and other famous cricket spats)
The cracks in Team India, which has seen a disastrous tour of Down Under, became apparent a fortnight ago when, after losing yet another match to Australia, Dhoni said his seniormost players, Sachin Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were "slow fielders".
This did not go down well with Sehwag. He spoke at length about the fact that Dhoni never told them that he saw them as slow fielders; and that the reason the skipper gave them for rotating players was different. "I did not know what he (Dhoni) said and what's going on in media. He told us he wanted to give a chance to youngsters who had come here and (could) play the next World Cup. That's what he told us," said Sehwag.
The BCCI has stoutly rejected all talk of a rift, but it reportedly read the riot act to Dhoni, Sehwag and the team. There were reports that the two seniors - Dhoni and Sehwag - would address a joint press conference. But that never happened and Dhoni addressed the media alone, where he said that there was neither any dissension nor any communication gap in the dressing room. He said such reports at times created a brief awkwardness among the players.