Out-of-favour Virender Sehwag reckons that he still has two-three years of competitive cricket left in him and a good showing for the Kings XI Punjab in IPL-7 will present a strong case for his return to the Indian cricket team.
"I have 2-3 years of competitive cricket left in me before thinking of quitting the game. I can still give 2-3 years. I am looking forward to playing for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL and help them win the title this time," Sehwag, who was bought for Rs 3.2 crore by the Punjab franchise at the players' auction, told PTI in an interview on Tuesday. (Read: George Bailey named KXIP skipper for IPL 2014)
The 35-year-old opener, in his prime, used to score heavily across the world but, of late, his form has deserted him and he looks a pale shadow of his former self.
Kings XI Punjab have strong batting and bowling line-up in George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mitchell Johnson. The Punjab franchise made use of their purse at the players' auction smartly and got hold of some of the finest stars of world cricket at the moment.
Sehwag said their first goal would be to qualify for the play-offs.
"We have a very good team. Our first aim will be to qualify for the play-offs. The ultimate goal is to bring home the Cup."
Sehwag, who has scored 38 international hundreds, has welcomed George Bailey as KXIP skipper. "I have heard that George Bailey is a good captain and he is leading the Aussie side in the T20 and led the side in the ODIs as well when Clarke was not there. It's good to play under a captain who is leading their countryÂ and when I get to meet Bailey I will share my experience and I can get to know him also," he said.
Reflecting upon his role in the side, Sehwag said, "My role has not changed. My job would be to perform to my potential for the franchise. I would be spending a lot of time with young players and sharing my experiences with them."
"I was doing this when I was part of the Indian cricket team. I was guiding the youngsters and I would be doing the same thing here."
Asked about his expectations from the IPL, Sehwag said it would provide him another opportunity to get back into form.
"The franchise would be expecting a good show from me. That's what I am expecting from myself too. I am concentrating on my game and hoping the IPL will be good for me. It's time to play the IPL well," he said.
On United Arab Emirates being chosen as the venue for the first leg of IPL games he said, "I think Dubai is a good choice and uncapped players have big role in every franchise, especially if they are playing in the subcontinent. If IPL was happening in South Africa then it would have been difficult for uncapped players. Dubai is very hot in April and that's the only concern."
Sehwag, whose hand-eye coordination and destructive stroke-making helped him dominate the world's best bowling attacks, now finds himself in a difficult phase where even the regular Ranji bowlers seem to have sorted him out.
Not long ago the opener was Indian cricket batting's mainstay. His famous triple centuries against Pakistan and South Africa in Test cricket and his double hundred against West Indies in an ODI are still being talked about.
But now, Sehwag's wretched run with the bat has even made his previous IPL employer, Delhi Daredevils, release him before the IPL-7 auctions.
Asked about his future and next year's ICC 50-over cricket World Cup, Sehwag said, "I am working on my fitness and batting skills. It's about improving my concentration level and picking the bowler's length early. I am putting in a lot of hours in practice."
"May be I can play 2015 World Cup, may be not. I am enjoying my game at the moment whether playing at the domestic level, for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL. The important part is I am playing the game and I am happy with it," he said.
Sehwag also threw his weight behind the under-fire Indian cricketers, who had dismal tours of South Africa and New Zealand before their early exit from the Asia Cup.
"They are playing well as a unit but not winning the games. We have a talented bunch of players and only if they can click together as a batting and bowling unit, then only we can win the T20 World Cup," he said.
"You need to give time to these players. Our future is in secure hands. We had also faced a similar situation in 1999 when we were not winning abroad but after 2002, we started winning overseas. These young boys also need time before they start winning overseas," he said.