Virender Sehwag is virtually at the end of his ODI career after being dropped from the opening three matches against England. With the next World Cup in Australia a couple of years from now, when the Delhi dasher would be 35, it is clear that the think tank does not seem to have him in the scheme of things when India defend their title.
How come Sehwag who is one of the most destructive batsmen in the world has now reached a stage where he is considered extra baggage for the limited version—something which was even unthinkable a couple of years ago.
If one takes into consideration his last five knocks in the ODI, it conveys a sad story. The opener had scores of 31, 4, 34, 3, 15 in the last five ODI innings he has played .There is no doubting that currently he is going through one of the worst phases of his career.
A look at Sehwag’s one-day stats reveals that his best show in the ODIs came between the middle of 2008 and 2011 which culminated in India winning the World Cup. During this three- year period, Sehwag was at his destructive best scoring 2488 runs at an average of 48.96 and a strike rate of 125.28.
In fact, during this phase he was even better than Chris Gayle who is widely acknowledged as the batsman with the best strike rate in contemporary cricket. From those heady days to this forgettable phase, one is tempted to ask what are the reasons behind the decline of Sehwag’s form in the ODI?
With the advancing years, it is clear that the Delhi batsman’s reflexes are getting slower. And that affects someone like Sehwag. As a former cricketer said,” He is someone who relies on his reflexes more than technique. And when reflexes get slow it affects the timing of shots and things start to look difficult. Also getting frequently bowled is a sure sign of this,” he added.
The number of times Sehwag got bowled of late clearly illustrates this point. If we include the last ten innings (including the four Tests against England) it shows that Sehwag has been clean bowled in half of his dismissals. ‘This clearly shows that his bat is coming just that wee bit slower or is a bit less angled which results in him getting bowled more often now.”
Another reason for Sehwag’s decline in the ODI’s is the fact that so much cricket is being played these days that the players find it very difficult to adjust. The sheer number of matches nowadays across the three formats means that it is increasing difficult for batsmen to adjust their style of playing to all the three formats. And this becomes more difficult when you happen to be a senior player,
The presence of talented youngsters also has made life tougher for the Delhi blaster. “The likes of Ajinkya Rahane have been knocking on the doors of playing for India in the ODIs. When selectors meet to name a team they will always go in for a younger player as it is these youngsters who will form the core group for the 2015 World Cup. So I feel that his place which was an automatic choice some time back is increasingly coming under threat nowadays,” said a former Delhi teammate of Sehwag.
Another reason why Sehwag is not being considered for the ODIs is his relatively poor fielding. This format requires fresh legs and fielders who have agility. “In ODIs the emphasis is on younger players who also field better. It (fielding) becomes crucial. So it becomes increasingly difficult for someone like Sehwag to retain his place in the ODI side,” said a former BCCI selector. There are some who feel that Sehwag should now concentrate on Test cricket. “I think it makes more sense for him (Sehwag) to concentrate on Test matches. He should follow the example of Sachin Tendulkar who also quit from the ODI just to concentrate on Tests. I think Sehwag also should concentrate on the Tests where his presence makes a big difference,” said a former cricketer who has represented the country.