It’s a tough phase: Sehwag
Brisbane, Feb 21: India need to win their two remaining matches to be in with a chance for a spot in the CB series finals. Analysing their loss to Sri Lanka, stand-in skipper Virender Sehwag reiterated that the batting line-up needed to fulfill the promise while standing by the rotation policy.
Excerpts from Sehwag’s post-match press conference:
On losing the match
I think we didn’t play well, batting, bowling, fielding–whatever. We gave too many runs in the last seven or eight overs so that cost us and again the top-order didn’t fire. The way [Sachin] Tendulkar and [Gautam] Gambhir were batting, I thought they would play some good innings and give us a good start; but we lost three early wickets. In the first 11 overs we were three down for 40-odd runs. Virat [Kohli] and [Suresh] Raina built a partnership [but] they couldn’t take it till the end. At the end Irfan [Pathan] played really well. We came close [to the target]; we didn’t [concede] a bonus point. Hopefully in the coming games we will play well, win both the matches and qualify for the finals.
On what prompted India to stop the rotation policy and play all three seniors (Tendulkar, Gambhir and himself)
We thought that we [had to] give a good chance to the youngsters because they will come here and play the next World Cup in Australia [in 2015]. We are trying to give chances to all three or four youngsters but in this game we lost MS Dhoni and decided to play the top three. [If] we would give the team a good start [while] batting, it would be easier for the middle-order. But we still couldn’t [make that] happen.
On whether rotation spoils the momentum of the player
I don’t think so because it is better to give a chance to all the players in the early part of a triangular tournament. When you get to know in the last three or four games where you are [placed], you can play your full-strength squad with all the top players. I think that was a good strategy; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
On the next two games
We must win games so we have to play well. We have to look at our shot selection and we have to bowl and field well.
On the communication between MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja and other youngsters
It’s just a matter of playing the full fifty overs. The way Suresh and Virat were batting, if they [had] batted till the 40th-45th over, [it would have been] a different story. But they got out in the 32nd or 33rd over; Suresh got out and after that nobody batted till the end. [If] Virat had batted till the end and scored 120 not out, then it would have been a different story. But it is difficult. When your main batsman in the middle-order is not playing – even Yuvraj is not there – someone has to take the responsibility in the middle-order to bat till the end and take us through.
On Lahiru Thirimanne straying out of his crease at the non-striker’s end
I think [R] Ashwin warned him once in the previous over and then in the next over he just took the bails off and appealed for that. The umpire discussed it with me and asked me [if it should be given out]. I said we could give him one more warning. I decided that. Everybody was discussing the matter, but the umpires called me and I said we could give him one more warning but if he did it again, we would [get him out] because that’s the ICC rule. If somebody is making an early start, the bowlers are right to run him out.
On whether Ashwin appealed
On whether he thought Ashwin should have consulted him first
I think he went to Billy Bowden and the [square-leg] umpire and they discussed it and they called me and they said it was my call; if I appealed, then they could give him out. I took the decision to give him one more warning. If you appeal and the umpire gives him out, then somebody will criticise [you] for that. That’s not the spirit of the game so we gave him one more warning.
On whether that was the soft thing to do
Yes, it is soft, but that’s the way we are.
On the fact that the batsman kept repeating the offence but the bowlers and fielders didn’t appeal
Because they [Irfan and Vinay] were not aware. You have to be aware. Ashwin was aware and I was aware when I was bowling. You have to be aware when the non-striker is taking a start.
On what was going wrong with the team
We couldn’t bat fifty overs. If we had batted full fifty overs, it is a different story but one batsman has to bat till the end. Virat and Suresh, the way they are batting, if one of them batted till the end, then it would be a very tight game again. And obviously we are not giving [the team] a good start. The last three games I’ve played, I haven’t scored runs so I have to look at my shot selection. If I give a little more time to myself and then play my shots, it is a different story.
On whether the youngsters were putting a price on their wicket
They are working hard so it is difficult to explain what is going wrong. It is not an easy batting wicket, especially when two new balls are being used. It is difficult for everyone but if you look at the other batsmen, they were also struggling. The phase we are facing right now is difficult for the Indian team. Most batsmen are not scoring runs, except Gautam, today Virat and [MS] Dhoni. They are the three consistent batsmen scoring runs in the series. If you want to win the one-day game, four or five batsmen have to finish it and score a couple of fifties and hundreds and maybe somebody has to bat till the end. Somebody has to take the responsibility in the middle order, or maybe in the top order. Then he can bat through. If anyone from the top order can bat through, Sachin or Sehwag or Gambhir, then it’s easier for the middle order also.
On whether he was surprised when Dhoni came out and said he, Sachin and Gambhir could be accommodated in the same eleven
I didn’t know what he said and what’s going on in media. But we decided, we had a meeting, he chatted with everyone, with Gautam and myself and Tendulkar. He explained that he wanted to give chances to youngsters so they could play all the matches here. The next World Cup is also here, so they’ll get to know how the wickets behave in Australia.
On why Ravindra Jadeja was pushed up the order
Because we thought Parthiv [Patel] wouldn’t play the next game, and that Jadeja would. It is good for Jadeja to bat at least 15-16 overs so he gets used to it for the next few games.
On whether Irfan might move up the order
That Dhoni will take a decision on. I am not going to be captain in the next game. He batted really well [...]
On whether he felt Tendulkar and Gambhir were liabilities in the field
Did you see the catch? (smiles). [....] The captain will come before the next match. You can ask him. [...]
On Zaheer Khan not playing
He has some calf niggles. He is recovering from it.
On the weak bowling attack today
Umesh [Yadav] bowled brilliantly against West Indies. Then he bowled very well in the Australia Test matches also. Even Vinay Kumar has bowled [well]. Irfan bowled well this game and the last game to. Bowlers need some time to get used to [the conditions].
On the last two overs
Vinay was feeling pain in his hamstring so I went with Suresh Raina.
On Praveen Kumar’s fitness
He is fit.
On whether he would play the next match
I am available for all the matches. It depends on the captain and the coach, the XI that is picked. If they say that we want to give chances to youngsters and [we should] take a break, I am happy with that.
On whether he was available for the last match
No. I had a stiff back.
On the dressing room
We are one unit. We are very happy. [Dhoni] is the captain. He can say whatever he wants to say and he has been addressing the media for the last couple of years. We are okay with that.
On whether he was surprised about Ricky Ponting being dropped
Not really. We were expecting, as a team, that if they sacked him for the Test series, it would be good for us! But they sacked him a little later. It’s [the same rule] for everyone. If you don’t perform for six or seven games, get ready for the sack. So I am not surprised.
On whether his form was a concern
Not really. I was hitting well but I was not converting [the starts to big scores]. When I used to get a good start like against Australia, [after] 20 runs I got out in a funny way. I tried to flick a shot and got caught at point. I am hoping that in the coming games I will leave a couple of balls early and then take on the bowlers.
On closing the bat early
I am [expecting] the ball to come on early, but it’s not coming quick.
On whether he would support the rotation policy if he were captain
I have been telling [people] for a couple of years that we’ve got to rotate [our players]. Give more chances to youngsters because they will play more matches [than us] in the coming years. I told Dhoni before the last World Cup that if Raina, Rohit, Kohli play 100 matches [each], they will gain good experience and fire at the right time. So it’s good thinking.