Monday, September 28, 2009

Sehwag eyes India return against Australia

Dashing India opener Virender Sehwag on Saturday exuded confidence that he would be fully fit for the seven-match one-day international series at home against Australia, commencing in Baroda on October 25.

"I am not yet fit for international cricket as can't throw (the ball) from the boundary line. But I would be fully fit for the series against Australia," said Sehwag here in presence of the BCCI chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth.

Sehwag also said that he would play in the Champions League Twenty20 tournament for the Delhi Daredevils after leading the Rest of India side against Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai in the five-day Irani Cup tie, beginning on October 1 in Nagpur."I will play in the Champions League and in the Irani Cup match. There I'm captaining the side and would be fielding in the slips or other close-in positions," he said on sideline of a promotional event.

The flamboyant batsman, who would turn 31-years-old on October 20, has not played international cricket since he suffered a shoulder injury during the second edition of Indian Premier League in May.

Sehwag, who has two Test triple centuries, missed India's short visit to the West Indies, the triangular ODI series in Sri Lanka and also the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa.

Sehwag reiterated he had never said he was not interested in leading the country, but only indicated that he was not keen to be vice-captain as a younger player should be groomed to take over the reign from Mahendra Singh Dhoni in future.

"I never said I did not want India captaincy. I only said in that interview I did not want to be the vice captain as I want someone younger to be groomed for the job," he said.

On relinquishing the captaincy in IPL, Sehwag said, "For two years we did not qualify for the finals. It seems my luck is not there. I don't know where I would go after this year (as there's going to be a second grand auction for all players after the 2010 edition). That's why I refused captaincy.He praised his Delhi and India team-mate Gautam Gambhir by saying the left handed opener was "a good cricketer with good brain."

Sehwag described the upcoming Champions League as a good opportunity for youngsters to grab the attention of selectors.

"For youngsters it offers good opportunity to play in front of TV audience and big crowds. Performing well in the Champions League or IPL counts. It's a good platform for the youngsters," he said.

Sehwag was confident India, even without him and two other key members - Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh, was capable of doing well in the Champions Trophy.

"I am confident we will play well against Pakistan. We have always done well against them in the World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20. Just because two-three of us are not there does not mean we will not play well," he said.

Former Test opener and captain Srikkanth felt that the pressure was more on Pakistan than on the Indians.

"The pressure is more on Pakistan. We need to get a good start," he said.

Srikkanth, in his second year as chief selector, said that the Irani tie in Nagpur was the right platform for Sehwag to get back into the groove for the tough season ahead.

"In the Irani Cup he can be relaxed. It gives him a good opportunity for Viru to get back his mental and physical frame of mind (for cricket). By grace of God he would be fit for the series against Australia," the one-time dasher said.

Srikkanth did not feel the rise of the T20 was a concern for the well-being of the 50-over game. "All three formats can exist side by side by spacing them out and tweaking the 50-over game a bit. Already the Power Plays are there," he said.

The former Tamil Nadu player was emphatic that India possessed a terrific bench strength and would continue to be a force to reckon with in world cricket.

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