World T20: Viru sacrificed for team balance

first_imgThere are many factors that might have contributed to MS Dhoni taking an uncharacteristically tough decision on the playing XI for the game against Australia. After all, Virender Sehwag is a hard man to be dropped from the line-up in any format. While announcing his decision to play five bowlers at the pre-match press conference on Thursday, Dhoni had admitted it was “definitely one of the toughest decisions that I’ve taken so far” in his five-year captaincy stint. But while he hadn’t revealed that it was Sehwag who was to sit out, the Delhi swashbuckler’s practice schedule over the past three days had given a hint that he was not the team’s first priority. He didn’t bat on Tuesday, was among the last to pad up on Thursday, and sandwiched in between was his one solid net session in almost a week. Dhoni and Sehwag have had their differences in the past, which came to the fore most notably on the ill-fated tour Down Under earlier this year, on the issue of rotating senior players at the top of the order. But to cite those differences as the reason for dropping Sehwag would be taking things a bit too far. The decision to drop Sehwag and go in with three spinners was made easier for Dhoni him out of the team. Even when he does play, Sehwag averages just 21.75 in internationals, having scored just 348 runs in 17 matches. The strike rate might still be an excellent 149.35, but he has just two 50s to his name. He has been out of form for a while across formats now, and his fitness – never a strong point – has forced India to hide him in the field. But perhaps the biggest factor in Dhoni’s decision was this – with the Premadasa pitch assisting his spinners against England and predicted to get slower, it wasn’t too much of a gamble to go in with five bowlers, including all three of the spinners in the squad. At the very worst, the other six specialist Indian batsmen had shown enough form and firepower to post above-average totals, something that the team was now in a position to defend, given the insurance against one of the bowlers having an off day.advertisementlast_img

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