At a recent function related to the 2015 World Cup, Virender Sehwag candidly admitted that he still harbours hopes of being a part of India's World Cup squad in Australia and New Zealand. On current form and fitness that seemed like a 'bridge too far', a term actually used by Jacques Kallis to explain his chances of participation in the World Cup. It has been more than a year since Sehwag last turned out in India colours in one-dayers. His Test career is finished for sure since he hasn't been chosen for even longer. Also, hasn't done much on the domestic circuit to earn a recall. In that sense, his wishes of being part of Team India again seem a bit too optimistic.
There are two ways of looking at the situation. One, Sehwag is an extremely dangerous player, and can turn the game around anytime, on its head. He actually doesn't believe in something called form. If he feels the ball is there to be hit, he will go after the same irrespective of whether he is among the runs or not. Sehwag doesn't even care about the reputation of the bowler. This is the kind of carefree play that has won his bouquets as well as brickbats. Sehwag's aggressive style of play makes him a must-have in the side even if he has failed in a few games. For, when he comes off, he is sensational.
The danger with having him in the World Cup squad though is that India will be falling back on past glory. It has been a couple of years since Sehwag played a significant knock in an international game. Even in the IPL, it was only the one match in which he turned back the clock to smash an amazing hundred. On the domestic scene, he has constantly tasted failures. Under the circumstances, taking Sehwag to the World Cup would be a massive risk. He hasn't shown any signs of improvement over the last couple of seasons, and in case he is chosen for the mega event and fails, it could have a massive impact on the team's chances, and the selectors would come in for a lot of criticism.
Experience could be another reason why the selectors may be thinking whether they should fall back on Sehwag. He has tasted success in Australia before, and it was only during the 2012 tour that he actually struggled. India's other choices for openers are Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane. Of them, Dhawan and Sharma are first-choice openers. And, while not sounding too pessimistic, there is a fair chance that both might struggle in Australia and New Zealand. Neither is a good player of pace and movement, as was evident during the tour of South Africa.
Of the two first-choice openers, Sharma might still do well in Australia for he has tasted success in the country before. But, for Dhawan, it would arguably be his biggest challenge till date. This is why the men who pick the team might be pondering upon the Sehwag factor. Yes, there is Rahane as well, who has succeeded at the top of the order, but having him open will weaken the middle order. So India would like to keep Rahane in the middle order, along with Ambati Rayudu, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina. You wouldn't want to be an Indian selector when the World Cup team is picked!
--By A Cricket Analyst