Jamshedpur: One cannot adopt a moment of greatness, because it is rather achieved through great adventure, fun and the challenge of scaling new heights. It comes of one’s own with all the sweat and struggle ' which may look sordid, but must continue. Just like a mother can’t sit pretty after giving birth to a child, but prepares herself for further challenges ahead.
Virender Sehwag comes into this picture with huge pressure on him. The pressure to keep the winning momentum going, the pressure of continuing the run-chase record if it comes their way, and finally, the pressure of delivering from his own end. Sadly, greatness doesn’t let you off anything.
Come Wednesday here at the Keenan, experiment will again be the buzzword for the Team India thinktank, but beyond the delicate talk of “gaining experience for a better future” lurks the danger: Failures have this habit of creating doubts in minds, and it is preposterous to perceive that the Sehwags and the Mohammed Kaifs are not aware of all this.
Interestingly, Team India’s stand-in captain spoke about a “shift in generation.” With Sourav Ganguly out of the picture, regular captain Rahul Dravid rested and the senior-most pro Sachin Tendulkar recovering from a shoulder surgery, Sehwag stressed that the process of the youngsters coming into their own was nothing but a natural phenomenon. “Of course, there is a shift in generation,” he said.
“First we had the Sunil Gavaskar era, then came the Sachin era. Now with more and more youngsters coming in, things have to keep changing. We have been dependent on Sourav, Sachin and Rahul for a while, now the burden is on the youngsters,” he maintained.
Among the current generation of youngsters, expectation will surely be high on the son of the soil ' Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Sehwag’s take on him was simple: “When you are in your first year and you play very well, you are bound to get all the adulation and awards. In that sense, he has been lucky, but such awards come as a motivation. Dhoni is a talented cricketer, he is a very good prospect and in future, he can single-handedly win matches for the country.”
The dashing opener further revealed that the entertaining wicketkeeper would be promoted up the order. “Our plan is to play him up the order here since he was not getting too many opportunities to show what he is capable of,” he pointed out.
From the rain and the subsequent frustration of watching a match getting washed away in Guwahati, India and England have been thrust into the hot and sultry conditions of the Steel City. India’s stand-in captain downplayed this, saying, “We are quite used to it, the whole of India is very hot at this time of the year' But I think it will be more difficult for England, who may not have played in such heat. It’s already 44 degrees and tomorrow, with the crowd cheering on, it will feel like 54.”
However, Kevin Pietersen managed to find a bright side to the heat. “I have played in similar heat in Durban, but nothing more than here. But it is better than being in England at this time, sitting indoors watching it rain and not playing, which is a bit depressing.”
Heat is also set to play a key role in the teams’ strategies for the sixth one day International. With India already having pocketed the TVS Cup by going 4-0 up, chances are bright enough that Robin Uthappa, the new kid on the block, could be making his international debut. A few seniors like Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh might also be rested. While Pathan is three short of 100 wickets, the man in form, Yuvraj, needs just 49 more runs to get to the 4000-mark.
“Milestones are meant to be made, but we need to keep the team’s interest in mind,” Sehwag said ' a remark suggestive enough in the lines of the team management’s stress on “giving chances to everybody” on the tour. Seen in this light, Y. Venugopal Rao may replace Yuvraj.
Changes are also ringing in the opposite camp. While Pietersen emphasized that the XI would be picked on Wednesday morning, Andrew Flintoff could be allowed a much-deserved rest, a la Dravid. Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones showed no signs of his knee injury, but his place will go to Matt Prior.
“We sort of challenged ourselves to win a mini three-match series. We all know how important it is to keep the winning habit going. This is the motivation we will take with us at the Keenan tomorrow,” Sehwag signed off.
India (likely): Virender Sehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Robin Uthappa, Mohammed Kaif, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh/Y. Venugopala Rao, Ramesh Powar, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar, RP Singh, Munaf Patel.
England (likely): Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Andrew Flintoff/Owais Shah, Vikram Solanki, Matt Prior, Ian Blackwell, Gareth Batty, James Anderson, Matthew Hoggard.
Umpires: Rudi Koertzen, K. Hariharan. TV: A.V. Jayaprakash
Match Referee: Roshan Mahanama.
Match starts: 9 am.