“Why should I have a chat with him? He is the captain, he is the leader; if he and the coach think we should give breaks to the top order, that’s fine, I am okay with that. I don’t have any issues with that.”
—Virender Sehwag on M.S. Dhoni
Virender Sehwag was never one to fashion the front-foot defensive into a statement of stylish batsmanship. What’s more, he doesn’t repose trust in that forward plod; his method is one of clean, blunt strokeplay. In speech, he’s equally unequivocal, speaking bitter truths with a straight face. But his lack of subtlety merits second thought: you know he’s being honest but you wonder, perhaps absurdly, if it is cleansed of other motives.
On February 19, after the loss to Australia in the one-day tri-series, Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni had said that he could not have the trio of Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir all together in the ODI team because “it would affect our fielding in a big way”.
Sehwag’s comment provided grist to the rumour mill, fat to the fire. He spoke an inconvenient truth and, in effect, stoked speculation about Dhoni’s honesty, motives and captaincy. It also resurrected the old Dhoni-Sehwag rift rumour, this time with the clearest facts and quotes to anchor it with.
By design or accident, Dhoni has placed in the public domain his view that Tendulkar, Gambhir and Sehwag are pretty much the worst fielders in the team. Even if it’s true, did it have to be said at the cost of hurting the pride of the trio? “Dhoni should not have said this publicly,” says former Indian coach Anshuman Gaekwad. “He should have let this remain in the dressing room.”
But once the reasons were out, the rift theory took on a life of its own—so much so that BCCI president N. Srinivasan felt it was his duty to deny its existence. BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla said: “From what we have understood, Sehwag has been misquoted.” Shukla didn’t explain how someone could get misquoted after addressing a press conference to some 30 journalists, televised at that.
Dhoni is a resolute leader, with definite goals and motivations. Sehwag shows the same certitude in all matters. At a press conference just before the 2011 World Cup, Sehwag was asked what he thinks of Dhoni the captain. “We are his seniors,” Sehwag said, speaking facts. “He doesn’t need to tell us what to do. We know what we have to do.”
India won the World Cup and became Test cricket’s top team with these very men. Strong personalities will have their differences, but they hurt when the team is on a losing run, and reasons for defeat unearth embarrassment.
No, say both Wadekar and Gaekwad. “Rotation should be for a time when we’re doing well, not when we’re not,” says Wadekar. “You plan for bad times when you’re doing well. When you’re in bad times, you play your best team. Playing young, inexperienced players in tough times puts pressure on them.”
That seems to be true for this tour. After six innings, Raina’s average was 22.33, Ravindra Jadeja’s 18.6; Rohit Sharma averages 15.8 from five innings. Gaekwad says when the seniors aren’t playing well, a team must play youngsters as it has nothing to lose. “If the young players aren’t doing well too, you can’t afford to experiment,” he adds.
The best Indian batsman has been Dhoni, much more at home in ODI cricket. His captaincy, though, has attracted a torrent of criticism, right from tactics to team selection. “I’ve never been a fan of his captaincy, for he’s defensive and lacks imagination,” former captain Bishan Singh Bedi says. “That became clear in the Tests, when he set defensive fields and let Australia take the initiative.”
Dhoni’s ODI runs have led to his partial rehabilitation in the affections of fans—confirming the irrationality, and brevity, of public memory. But spare a thought for Dhoni—he’s not been given the team he wanted, he’s mentally and physically fatigued. He has spoken often about a tiring excess of cricket, that he might give up Test cricket. It’s a cry for help that the BCCI has refused to heed, with Srinivasan saying stoutly: “Unless he says it officially, I would not take that seriously.”
As the notes of disharmony from Australia get louder, will someone take things seriously? We all know the answer.
Apropos the Sehwag-Dhoni rift (Fielding Restrictions, Mar 5), Dhoni should take a few tips from how the charismatic Imran Khan conducted himself when he found himself in a similar situation vis-a-vis his rebellious deputy Javed Miandad, who was blunt, outspoken and given to taking potshots at Imran at the start of his captaincy. Imran tackled it by making Javed feel important.
G. Venkatesh, Chennai
Though rifts exist between players, they surface more when a team is losing.
Krishna Pavan, on e-mail
We need a tough man at the helm. Team India should consider bringing back Greg Chappell, or even Ravi Shastri or Sourav Ganguly.
Ramana Rao, Visakhapatnam
“When the face loses the ‘GLOW’ and is swollen due to ‘BLOWS’ it doesn’t matter one is being punched by ‘FRIENDS’ or ‘FOES’.”
The biggest villains are Srinivasan and his set of buffons at the BCCI. Kick them out , and all will be well.
Irrespective of win or loss in a game, rifts exist betwen players. probability of them surfacing when there are losses is more.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT