The end of the road for Sehwag, Bhajji and Zaheer
The exclusion of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan was expected. The decision, which took a long time coming, in all likelihood, brings the curtain down on the One-day careers of the trio, says Bikash Mohapatra.
It is anything but a surprise.
The exclusion of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan was expected. In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the decision took a long time coming.
The eminent trio had been living on borrowed time for quite a while. However, common sense eventually prevailed and they were excluded from the list of 30 probables, to be trimmed to 15 later, for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
The decision, in all likelihood, brings the curtain down on the One-day careers of the trio. And it has come at the cost of their pride.
Sehwag, since he achieved the highest individual score in ODIs -- 219 against West Indies in Indore in December 2011 --- scored just 248 runs in 11 ODIs, one of them being a 96 -- against Sri Lanka at Hambantota last year.
A match-winner in his prime, his stock has plummeted in recent years, in all forms of the game at that.
He was dropped from the five-match home series against England earlier this year and subsequently omitted for the final two Tests against Australia, following negligible contributions in the first two.
Almost 35, he should have known the obvious.
Image: Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh
Bhajji hasn't played in a one-dayer since 2011
As regards Harbhajan, suffice to say, he was hoping against hope.
Having been part of the team solely on the basis of reputation for a long time, he was eventually dropped midway through the tour of England in 2011. When England came calling last year, the offie was drafted into the squad for the second Test at the Wankhede owing to MS Dhoni's demand for a turning track.
The fact that Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook hit him all over the park provided another indication that bowler had lost it. Though he was dropped for the subsequent two Tests, the selectors gave him another opportunity in the opening two Tests against Australia, thereby allowing him to reach the 100 Test matches milestone (in Chennai).
Harbhajan, though, floundered again. With R Ashwin running through the Australian batting line-up it was Ravindra Jadeja, not Harbhajn, who provided perfect support. No wonder the selectors were forced to bring in Pragyan Ojha for the last two Tests.His omission for the Champions Trophy isn't surprising, as. besides his recent poor form, he hasn't played in a one-dayer since June 2011.
Image: Harbhajan Singh
Only Dravid retired with his pride intact
Zaheer is a case of stretching your luck a bit too far. Hounded by injuries for much of the last three years, the bowler kept coming back only to get injured again.
At almost 35, time is certainly not on Zaheer's side, especially considering the fact that he is a bowler.
The case of these three players is yet another example of the malady that afflicts Indian cricket: the refusal of players to accept reality.
Of the legendary Indian players to call it a day in recent times, only Rahul Dravid did so with pride intact.
The veteran batsman hadn't been a part of the squad for two years when he was recalled ahead of the five-match ODIs series in England. His impeccable form in the preceding Test series -- he was the lone Indian batsman to impress -- as also the lack of form of others prompted selectors to make the move.Any man with self-respect wouldn't have taken kindly to such a decision and so did Dravid. It didn't take him long to announce it would be his final One-day series.
Image: Rahul Dravid
Selectors should be complemented for this move
Late last year, ahead of the One-day series against Pakistan, Sachin Tendulkar made a similar announcement.
The Master Blaster had put his reputation at stake for that elusive 100th hundred, which eventually came against Bangladesh at the Asia Cup last year. His decision to retire from the shorter format evoked little reaction as even his fans had long expected it.
Tendulkar, 40 this month, and way past his prime, continues to be a part of the Test team though. His poor form notwithstanding, the selectors are scared to take a decision about him fearing a backlash.
Having said that, the selectors need to be complemented for excluding Sehwag, Harbhajan and Zaheer from the Champions Trophy probables list. It was time to take a few harsh calls and that is precisely what Sandeep Patil and Co. have done.It is a decision that will bereave the trio of a formal farewell but is one that bodes well for the future of Indian cricket.
Image: Zaheer Khan