An era in Indian cricket could be nearing its end after Virender Sehwag was again left out in the cold as the selectors named a young side for the Test series in Australia. Young Karnataka batsman Lokesh Rahul was preferred over the veteran Sehwag, who played the last of his 104 Tests against the visiting Australians last year.
With Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay picking themselves as regular openers, many thought the five wise men of Indian cricket would look at Sehwag's experience and success Down Under and rope him in as a reserve opener. However, in a clear sign of things to come, Sandip Patil and Co. picked Rahul, a 23-year-old batsman from Mysore, who signed off a dream domestic season by scoring twin tons in the Duleep Trophy final for South Zone.
This effectively means Sehwag may not even get the chance to bow out of international cricket in style, like four of the 'Fab Five' did over the last six years.
Sourav Ganguly retired after the home series against Australia in 2008, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman announced their retirements soon after India returned from their horror tour Down Under in 2012 and Sachin Tendulkar brought the curtains down on his career in front of an emotional home crowd in Mumbai in 2013.
Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar told NDTV that the current selection committee has shown it does not see any future for Sehwag as an India cricketer and that was the reality.
"That's how cricket is. You don't always get the farewells that you think you should get. Because when you are out of form, the team matters and if your selection does not help the team, then you don't get the opportunity," said Gavaskar.
"But what an entertaining player Sehwag was, when he was there for India. They were the Fab Five, who gave us so many thrilling moments when," Gavaskar added.
Sehwag was sidelined after a prolonged period of poor form during the home series against Australia in 2013. After his exit, Dhawan slammed a record-breaking hundred on debut to grab the opening position. The 36-year-old has since battled with form, failing to impress the selectors.
There have been some flashes of brilliance, like the hundred in the Indian Premier League earlier this year and a quickfire 52 against the Northern Knights in the Champions League Twenty20. But in the face of competition and more consistent opponents, Sehwag had to run those extra miles. Â
Sehwag had hoped those knocks would impress the national selectors. But maybe a batsman, who has two triple hundreds in Test cricket, needed to do better and on more important platforms.
Indian cricket is now studded with young batsmen - and there are more in the pipeline. The selector, captain and the new team director (Ravi Shastri) are more determined than ever to look into the future. Sehwag is not part of their plans.
After ordinary performances in the Ranji Trophy last season, Sehwag continued to flop in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy and when he made scores of 11, 0 and a poor 11 against Himachal Pradesh on a day the selectors met to chart the course for the future, the writing was on the wall.
Sehwag was counted among the most deadly batsmen as the 2011 World Cup approached and he showed his destructive abilities right at the start, clobbering Bangladesh to all parts of Mirpur, smashing 175. Four years later, the bespectacled and ageing warhorse is a shadow of his past. India will begin their defence of the World Cup Down Under with complete faith on their youth.
Sehwag's time could now well be over.