Is it time to call Veeru and Yuvi 'out'?

Published: Thursday, September 23, 2004, 16:31 [IST]
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It's a classic case of two of India's most precociously talented blokes-Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh giving out indications that they are taking their 'Team India' places for granted.

No doubt, both these dudes have lifted the men in blue from near-hopeless situations on umpteen occasions especially during the last season, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you can keep failing and still guarantee yourself a place in the side because you have accumulated runs by the bundle in the season 2003-2004.

It goes without saying that the poor form of the duo has let down the side badly as exemplified in India's abysmal showing at the Asia Cup, rain-marred Videocon Cup in Holland, NatWest Challenge and ICC Champions Trophy in England.

Skipper Ganguly has always stood behind the newcomers, a break in tradition from most stereotyped Indian captains of the past, who would care no hoots about according respect to a rookie lad in the side. Without any amount of exaggeration, it must be said that Ganguly has been refreshingly different in that regard and backed the likes of Yuvraj and Sehwag to the hilt.

In case of Yuvraj, the Indian skipper had once got into a collision course with the national selectors (the five wise men of Indian cricket) for he believed that left-hander was too good a talent to be out of the national squad.

It is apparent that Ganguly's patience with Sehwag and Yuvraj was at its last tether and his message was loud and clear---shape up or ship out. For four tourneys, he was hoping against hope that Sehwag and Yuvraj would come out of the bad patch and deliver for the side but that day never came.

Unfortunately, both the young turks have not shown the desired application and inclination to make a serious bid to be amongst the runs. Instead, they would invariably get out playing airy-fairy shots very early on without getting their eye in.

As they continued with their depressing ways with the willow, it's team India, who suffered the most. Already minus Tendulkar, the team had lost much of its batting bite at the top of the order and the lean trot of the two has only compounded India's cup of woes.

For someone, who is known to support talented youngsters and one who doesn't mind taking on the selectors, Ganguly is probably now getting the feeling that last season success had got into their head. More startling were the comments Ganguly made at a press briefing. Without saying it in too many words, he made oblique references about Sehwag and Yuvraj.

More than anything else, Ganguly was more concerned over the period of time—Four tournaments have failed to see the runs flowing from the blades of Sehwag and Yuvraj and things weren't looking amusing any more.

Ganguly had enough of it. He has gone on record saying that no player can hope to cement his place in the side for life-long just because one has scored heap of runs in the last season. Obviously, the skipper's fury was directed at Sehwag and Yuvraj though not for once he mentioned the names of the duo.

Heads could roll when the national selectors meet up to pick the side for the first India-Australia Test starting in Bangalore from October 6. There are plenty of fringe players and former International discards, who are itching to get back into the national side. We need guys, whose chests swell with pride when they wear the blue India cap and not those guys who pull off a sterling performances and then are inclined on resting on those laurels.

The best way for the powers-that-be would be to give Sehwag and Yuvraj the chop temporarily and ask them to play in the domestic matches so that they can iron out any kinks if any creeping into their batting, and get their self-confidence back, which I'm sure has taken a hammering of late and at least find themselves into some kind of form and once they do that, they could be drafted in for latter Test matches against Australia.

At the moment, their morale is at low ebb and thrusting them against the formidable Aussie attack would be spell doomsday for them. We all have seen what precious little they did in the four tournaments they played. It's time we blood some other guys, who have been knocking on the door of the national selectors for long with their consistent performances in Ranji Trophy. The likes of Gautam Gambhir, Test discard Sadagopan Ramesh and Aakash Chopra and Dinesh Mongia must be serious contender for berths in the side.

Of course if Tendulkar doesn't recover in time for the first Test, the selectors may be tempted to carry on with Sehwag and probably ask Chopra to open the innings with him. All talk of Yuvraj being thought of as a future opener surely has been thrown to the wind for the now considering the Punjab southpaw's disastrous showings in the recent past.

Even Ganguly might be forced to eat a humble pie as for he at times tends to "parrot" Yuvraj's match-winning abilities and that could also be a factor in Yuvraj getting an impression that he is indispensable to the side.

Surely, the next fortnight could see some bombshells being thrown when the national selectors meet to pick the first Test side. Non-performers would be left scratching their heads and biting their nails in anxiety and seek perhaps celestial blessings so that they can hold on to their places in the national side. Now not cricket, but god save them!

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