London, June 05: The team management clams up and the players have fingers on their lips. But reports about simmering tensions between Indian captain MS Dhoni and vice-captain Virender Sehwag are fast threatening to undermine India’s defence of the ICC World Twenty20, which begins on Friday.
Blog: Why Dhoni’s Men in Blue are not in pink of health
Rumour mills are abuzz that the two had an ugly faceoff during a team meeting, though it could not be independently confirmed if it was over the status of Sehwag’s shoulder injury.
Though neither protagonist is willing to come on record, Dhoni’s responses after India’s nine-wicket win in their second warm-up game against arch-rivals Pakistan were a giveaway. “I don’t want to make any comment about it,” Dhoni said on his deputy’s fitness. “Maybe you should ask the physio to issue a press release.”
Dhoni’s response to questions on Virender Sehwag’s shoulder injury at the media conference on Wednesday added to the rumours that all is not well in Camp India.
After Rohit Sharma’s match-winning 80 against Pakistan, and the Mumbai batsman’s second impressive innings as an opener (he had scored 36 against New Zealand in the first warm-up match), Dhoni addressed a packed and hungry media gathering.
There were a barrage of questions about Rohit continuing as an opener and the status of Sehwag’s batting position. Every question on Sehwag and his fitness or availability was treated with disdain.
“It is always good to have a problem of plenty and it gives us options for the opening slot,” Dhoni said.
Sehwag had recently made statements about him not being an opening batsman and Rohit’s performance certainly does make the captain’s job a bit easier if Sehwag, on his return, is still reluctant to open. So what happens when Sehwag returns?
“It’s tough for me to comment on that. All I can say is I’m glad to have talented players who are performing in my side,” Dhoni stressed.
Will the cold war mean that Sehwag has lost his place in the playing XI for good in this tourney? Wil he be a certainty in the team when he returns? “I said before, I don’t know when he will get fit. And whether he is a certainty once he gets fit, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see how the team is shaping up,” Dhoni said. So how long will it take for Sehwag to get fit?
“It’s a bit of a gamble with injuries. Maybe he will get fit for the game against Bangladesh (June 6) or against Ireland (June 10). I’m not really sure about it,” he said, advertising his disinterest.
Interestingly, Indian captains and vice-captains have always had a testy relationship, be it Kapil-Gavaskar, Azhar-Sachin or Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.