Sehwag backs Dhoni to play 2019 World Cup

“The experience that he has in the middle and the lower middle-order, no one has that,” reasons the former India opener.

“We should only pray that M. S. Dhoni (in picture) is fit till the 2019 World Cup,” says Sehwag.   -  PTI

Virender Sehwag backs M. S. Dhoni to play the 2019 World Cup, as India hadn’t found a suitable “replacement” for him.

“I don’t think anyone can replace Dhoni at this point of time. Rishabh Pant is good but he would also need time to replace him. But that can only happen after 2019. It’s then when we should think about Dhoni’s replacement. Till then let Pant gain experience,” Sehwag told PTI.

For one of India’s greatest match-winners of all time, cricket lovers should pray that Dhoni remains as fit as he is currently rather than focus on his lean patch with the bat. “We should not worry about [Dhoni’s batting form]. We should only pray that M. S. Dhoni is fit till the 2019 World Cup. The experience that he has in the middle and the lower middle-order, no one has that,” said Sehwag, who is a part of Star Sports panel for the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia.

Life=sport

For Sehwag, Dhoni’s career resembles crests and troughs of life. “Like life, the beauty of sports is that no two periods are identical. You will have to deal with it. There are days when you make runs and there will be a dry spell. Like in business, every year you don’t make profits,” he said.

K. L. Rahul could be seen with big gloves in case Dhoni is found wanting but Virender Sehwag is completely against that idea. “I would never want a guy, who is not a natural ‘keeper. It’s not keeping 20 overs in Indian Premier League. During a 50-over match, one missed stumping or missed catch can change the course of the match. It’s not a risk worth taking,” said Sehwag.

Sehwag asked for more chances to be given to middle-order batsmen so everyone gains experience by the time the World Cup begins. The core team should be set at least one year before the World Cup. “The middle-order that would play in the World Cup along with the bowlers should be given enough opportunities, so by the time of World Cup, they should have played close to 100 [One-Day Internationals] each. They should be ready to handle each and every challenging situation thrown at them,” he said.

Seasoning of ‘core’ team

“Experience always enables you to handle pressure better. They can then win you matches in crunch situations. If they are not given that many chances, they could be the weak link. Next 3-6 months, I hope that the core is set.”

Sehwag said he would ideally like to see either Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina in the England-bound World Cup squad. “Let one of the middle-order slot be given to one of them while the other slot may be rotated between Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey. In that way, you also have given these guys experience while one seasoned player is also there in the set-up,” he said.

Sehwag believes R. Ashwin, who is set to play county cricket for Worcestershire, should have been rested after bowling close to 200 overs in three Tests against Sri Lanka. “I thought that he was being given a break as he has bowled a lot in the Test series. Ideally, he should have been given rest but then it’s a decision that Ashwin and team management needed to take. I don’t know what’s in their minds. May be they are focussing on winning the Test series in England next year and if that’s the case, then so be it.”

Asked about the upcoming limited-overs series against Australia, Sehwag said that it will be a tough one considering quality of the opposition. “Australia always gives a tough fight and that’s why every player wants to perform against Australia. When you perform against Australia, England and South Africa, you automatically earn more respect. I expect players to be charged up,” he signed off.