Virender Sehwag has informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that he would like to bat in the middle order as against in the opening position from where he lost his place in the Indian team after the second Test against Australia at Hyderabad last March.
A source informed SUNDAY MiD DAY on Saturday that Sehwag has intimated the Board about his preference, but the Sandeep Patil-led selection committee picked him in the India ‘A’ squad for the second and third four-day games against West Indies ‘A’ as an opening batsman.
Cheteshwar Pujara will lead the side which also includes Gautam Gambhir, who is living up to his English county cricket commitments at Essex.
Sehwag, who scored only 27 runs in his last two Tests – against Australia at home – is hoping for a place in the Test squad which takes on West Indies in a
two-Test series this November.
Sehwag’s decision to bat in the middle order appears to be a last ditch attempt at reviving his Test career since the selectors cannot overlook Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay who fared well at the top against the Australians.
The Tamil Nadu batsman scored 167 in the Hyderabad Test where he opened with Sehwag. He followed it up with 153 in the next Test at Mohali where Dhawan scored 187 on debut.
The selectors/team management also used Cheteshwar Pujara as opener in the final Test at New Delhi which Dhawan missed through injury. India whitewashed Australia 4-0.
The middle order route will not be an easy one for the 104-Test man who will turn 35 next month. Indeed, there is a scramble for places in the middle order.
Despite his failure in both innings of his debut Test, 25-year-old Ajinkya Rahane is talked about as a good middle order prospect. His Mumbai teammate Rohit Sharma’s claims cannot be overlooked as well.
Ditto Suresh Raina, who was included in the Test squad for the fourth and final Test against Australia when Dhawan was ruled out.
Sehwag’s middle order desire has the backing of Test player turned commentator and writer Sanjay Manjrekar, who wrote in ESPN Cricinfo recently: “It’s a desire that he (Sehwag) seems to have held forever as a Test batsman.
I have held the view that for a natural middle-order batsman, he served India amazingly well as an opener when they desperately needed one, so how about granting him that wish before his career finishes?”
In 2001, Sehwag scored a hundred on Test debut in the Bloemfontein Test against South Africa at No 6. Five Tests later, skipper Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright decided to give him the opening slot in the 2002 Test series in England and Sehwag responded with 84 at Lord’s.
He scored his maiden hundred as opener in the next Test at Nottingham. As a Test opener, he has amassed 8207 runs in 99 Tests at 50.04. Some aggregate that!