New Delhi, Dec 14: The popular perception may suggest otherwise but Aravinda de Silva is convinced that Sachin Tendulkar is not a spent force and the former Sri Lankan skipper believes Virender Sehwag is paying the price for being over-aggressive.
In the capital to announce Neo Sport's cricket calendar till March 2010, de Silva said, ''I don't subscribe to the view that Sachin is past his prime. He has got a few more years of cricket in him and has a lot to offer to Indian cricket. You have the World Cup staring at you and India badly needs him.
''He is a great player and a great ambassador of the game. I think he is little low on confidence and has started doubting his ability. But it's all because of the constant media scrutiny. It's time for you people to support him and help him to get the best out of himself in the World Cup,'' de Silva said.
''I have played a few games with him for Lashings Club and we travelled together on a few occasions. Once he told me that, for the first time, he was really enjoying cricket. That goes to tell you how much pressure is on Sachin,'' he added.
On the other hand, Virender Sehwag's problem has been his over-aggressive batting, feels the Lankan.
''From whatever I saw of him, I felt he is not playing his usual game and trying to be over-aggressive. He wants to score a boundary off each delivery which is not done. Otherwise, technically I didn't find any flaw.
''Every batsman in the current era has some problem or the other.
It's all about knowing your strengths and weaknesses and play within your limitations,'' he explained.
''He is like our Sanath Jayasuriya who likes to blast his way right from the beginning. You have to realise that players like him would come up with a big knock in, say, every five innings and that's why you need players like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar to stabilise things.
''I think India is missing the service of Yuvraj Singh in the middle order. He is a great player of the pacers and India badly needs a player of his calibre,'' he elaborated. Srikkanth also felt that the overall poor form of the openers was the single biggest reason behind India's dismal show in recent past. ''I'd like to take you to the 2003 Australia tour where India did well largely because Sehwag and Aakash Chopra gave us decent starts in each match. And in the Test series in West Indies too, we did fairly well because Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer gave us good starts.
''Now losing early wickets mean the number three batsman is arriving in the second over, while Sachin Tendulkar, the number four, is being rushed to the crease in the fifth over,'' he said.
''I just feel India might do well in the Test series against South Africa, for they won't be in a hurry to score quick runs.
Besides, South African batting is heavily dependant on Jacques Kallis and Herschelle Gibbs, while Graeme Smith is out of form. If we can make early inroads, we would do well there,'' he argued.
Srikkanth too felt the team morale is quite down and felt a motivational speaker might make some difference to their performance.
''I reckon our ODI performance plummeted after the super-sub rule was scratched. With that, you didn't feel the need of all-rounders for you had an additional bowler or batsman at your disposal.
''But now that the rule is no more there, India is lacking a genuine all-rounder in the side. I'm not talking about Irfan Pathan, who was elevated to the stature when he actually was not. To me he is a bowler who can bat sensibly and his prime job is to get the wickets,'' he said.
Srikkanth also felt that too much of experimentation have backfired on Team India.
''You tried to make bowlers out of batsmen and vice versa.
Actually nobody knew what they actually are. And it created a sense of insecurity among the players and that's not a good sign.
''They kept sending Irfan at number three. It was supposed to be a surprise move but they kept doing it to the effect that the surprise element was lost,'' he reasoned.
Later, CEO of Nimbus Sports Shashi Kalathil announced the cricket calendar of the channel, which claims to be the home of Indian cricket on television, starting with the four-match ODI series against the West Indies in January next year.
''We would showcase the best home-grown talents in our wide coverage of domestic cricket, whcih we began earlier this year with the Challenger Series,'' Mr Kalathil said.