Sunday, March 15, 2009


Even though Virender Sehwag has himself admitted that batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is in a different league as a batsman, it is quite natural that the two will be compared especially after the Delhi dasher mesmerized New Zealand bowlers with his range of shots to win the just concluded One-Day series 3-1.Former Indian manager-cum-coach during the triumphant World Twenty20 in South Africa a couple of year ago, Lalchand Rajput, who has been a great admirer of both the batsmen, said Tendulkar is already a legend while Sehwag is on his way to becoming one.“I don’t like to compare two of India’s most destructive batsmen as it is definitely not fair. However, I should say that after being fortunate enough to watch both of them from close quarters, I can confidently say that Sachin is already a legend while Sehwag is on his way to becoming one. It is the Indian cricket fans who are truly fortunate to have seen both in full flow during the tour of New Zealand so far,” Rajput told on Saturday.“Probably, the Twenty20 and the ODIs are tailor-made for a batter like Sehwag while Tendulkar can adjust to any format. Unfortunately Tendulkar is not very keen about representing the country in the shortest format and I do respect him for that but if he had decided to be part of India’s Twenty20 campaign, I am sure he would have been as successful as he is in other formats of the game,” the former Indian opener added.“The total commitment shown by the two masters to the game is something that every budding cricketer should learn and Tendulkar’s presence in the team has had a big impact on all the youngsters. It has not only helped Sehwag to bloom completely but also the other youngsters to believe in themselves as the recent performances suggests,” Rajput, who was in charge of the Indian team before the present coach Gary Kirsten took over, said.

Brushing aside the two Twenty20 defeats (three in a row) at the hands of the Kiwis at the start of their on-going tour as just a ‘loss in concentration’, Rajput insisted that the Indians are the team to beat in the forthcoming World Twenty20 in England later this year.“I wouldn’t be too worried about the two defeats to the Black Caps as the tourists were still getting accustomed to the conditions over there. I still feel that the Indians are firm favourites to win the World Twenty20 even this year despite knowing fully well that it is very difficult to predict a winner in this format. I will put my neck out and say, India is the team to beat in the England tournament,” Rajput insisted.“For me India, Australia and South Africa are in the top league while New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are the ones who can cause an upset or two while the rest of the pack (Pakistan, England and Bangladesh) are at the bottom of the table for various reasons. I don’t want to miss watching India-Australia or India-South Africa or South Africa-Australia matches as these teams contain some really talented youngsters in their ranks,” he added.

“When you look at the recent performances (T20 and ODI) of the top three teams, India seems to have the right balance (spin, pace and strong batting line-up) while the South Africans and the Australians lack quality spinners, which is a vital part of a successful T20 team while the emergence of Ishant Sharma as an ideal partner to Zaheer Khan and our spinners consistency certainly gives a slight edge to the champions,” Rajput observed.

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