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Struggling Sehwag given marching orders by BCCI

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virender_sehwagI must confess I'm a huge Virender Sehwag fan. While his impeccable ability to get himself out time and again regularly frustrates me, his mere presence at the crease is enough to force me to drop everything else I do and just watch cricket. He's the one cricketer in the Indian team who has the ability to change the complexion of a game by just spending 30 minutes at the crease and quite simply takes Test cricket in particular to a level at which you dare not miss a single ball.

However, the reality of playing competitive sports is that no one is guaranteed a place in any side. You need to earn your spot on merit, and your past glories can only take you so far. The BCCI's announcement today that Sehwag had been dropped from the squad for the remaining two test matches against Australia would not have surprised anyone, and the fact that they have a readymade replacement in Shikhar Dhawan already in the squad and don't need to pick another player means it could have even been choreographed to the extent that the selectors were waiting for him to fail so that they could hand over the mantle to Dhawan.

Sehwag's form over the last two years, much like his once perpetual partner Gautam Gambhir's, has been very much on the decline. His inability to avoid edging balls behind the wicket meant that he was always going to be a ticking time bomb, and the fact that he has almost consistently failed outside the subcontinent meant that he was almost always a flat track bully.

However, what has hurt Sehwag the most in recent times is that opposition captains have figured him out. By denying Sehwag early boundaries by dropping a man on the point fence at the start of the game, Sehwag's average even back home has taken a dip. Where he would usually give the team the odd 30s and 40s before throwing his wicket away, he is now making 10s, and given his lack of athleticism in the field, Virupa doesn't quite fit into skipper MS Dhoni's ambitions of a fit and hungry team India.

Sehwag's failure to make a half-century in his last 9 test innings hasn't really helped matters, and with four consecutive overseas tours to look forward to, a change was most certainly on the cards. Sehwag reacted to the news in typical nonchalant fashion, tweeting, "Will continue to work hard for my place in the team. I trust my game and am confident that, 'I'll be back.' Best wishes to the team."

However, my gut feel tells me that not just Test cricket, but perhaps even international cricket has seen the last of Sehwag. Even if the newcomers who have been called up fail to make the spot their own, chances are the selectors and Dhoni will opt for blooding newcomers than recalling a veteran. Harbhajan's case points to the contrary, but even Bhajji's biggest fans will concede that the Turbanator is now very much a squad player, and not really the true successor to Anil Kumble's throne as India's lead spinner.

An interesting side plot that conspiracy theorists will no doubt claim is that with Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag exiting the Test scene, Skipper MS Dhoni has for all practical purposes guaranteed himself the captain's job for the next couple of seasons at least, and they will no doubt blame Dhoni for getting rid of his only real challengers. However, the fact of the matter is that Sehwag was quite literally not carrying his weight in this Indian line-up, and this is as good a time as any for a change.

Performances at the domestic level don't really count for much anymore, and the only chance Sehwag has of a comeback is if his replacements fail miserably. Vijay's 167 against the Aussies in Hyderabad guarantees him a spot on the Tour to South Africa irrespective of his performance in the remaining two test matches, it is now over to Dhawan to prove himself capable.

Viru will need a miracle to earn a third lease of life in international cricket, and however unlikely it might look on paper, one thing is for certain, Sehwag will never leave his fans wondering.

Photograph Copyright: BCCI