I'm fit and raring to go, says skipper Sehwag
The last time Cuttack -- the erstwhile capital of Orissa before being replaced by its twin city Bhubaneswar in 1948 -- hosted a one-day international, most of the spectators at major cricketing venues across the country had to watch the match by sitting cramped on steps. And India weren't a world champion team either.
India's stand-in captain Virender Sehwag (left) watches his teammates
train with coach Duncan Fletcher at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack
However, the last time the Men in Blue made an appearance at the Barabati Stadium -- against Sri Lanka in December 2009 -- it was Virender Sehwag who led the team in MS Dhoni's absence. And as the world champions square off against the West Indies in the first of five ODIs today, it will again be the Delhi dazzler who will be walking out for the toss.
Well, Sehwag is not new to leading captaincy. After all, besides leading India in seven ODIs and lone Twenty20 International, he has also worn the India blazer for a Test match toss thrice in the past. So what's the big deal about him leading today? It is the fact that for the first time, Sehwag will get an opportunity to showcase his captaincy skills for a full series. During all his past endeavours, he had stood in for a regular captain -- may it be MS Dhoni or Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly -- for a match or two in a series.
But once the national selectors decided to give Dhoni a break from the West Indies ODIs, despite naming the squad for the first three games, they announced Sehwag as skipper for all five matches. What works even better for the Nawab of Najafgarh is that, besides being the leader of the pack, he also is the senior-most player in a bunch loaded with youngsters.
What's more, this will be Sehwag's first ODI after that famous World Cup final on April 2. "I am happy that I am back in the one-day side. I am looking forward to this series. After the World Cup I had shoulder surgery and I took a little long to recover. Now that I am fit, I am ready to go," said Sehwag.
And more than bothering about fitting his youngsters in with a squad that has four potential opening batsmen (Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Parthiv Patel and Mumbai's Ajinkya Rahane), Sehwag's biggest concern is his opening partner today.
"I am sure that I am opening the batting, but we will take a call on who will come with me. I would love to open with Gautam. But we have to look our team combination as well," Sehwag said.