Why only Sehwag, has he been dropped for voicing against Dhoni?

The news of Virender Sehwag not finding a place in the Asia Cup squad has become the topic of debate with the media terming it to a ploy of the BCCI to punish the dashing batsman for voicing against Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

While the selectors insisted that Sehwag and Zaheer were 'rested' on fitness grounds, along with paceman Umesh Yadav, Sachin Tendulkar will get another opportunity to score his 100th international century as he was retained in the squad which will have a new vice-captain in Virat Kohli.

Barring the inclusion of 29-year-old Baroda all-rounder Yusuf and Bengal paceman Dinda, 27, there were no major changes in the squad to be captained by MS Dhoni.

The national selectors, however, did not make wholesale changes in the squad that performed miserably in the ongoing triangular series and preceding Test series in Australia by retaining many of the players, like Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina, who struggled throughout the tour.

According to Indian Express, sources close to Sehwag maintained that the batsman is fit. They added that Sehwag might even turn out for Delhi in the ongoing Vijay Hazare tournament on his return to India to make a point. “He hasn’t just batted but even bowled extended spells in the last few games. In case India reach the tri-series final, he will once again take the field. He is totally fit,” said an insider to the newspaper.

The official version — put out after today’s selection meeting — was that Sehwag was rested on the advice of the team physio, and that Kohli’s promotion was to groom him as a future skipper.

“Sehwag and Zaheer Khan have been rested due to injuries. It has been done on the basis of reports from the physiotherapist,” Srikkanth said of the omissions. What is probably closer to the truth is that the board has used the team selection to send out the message to possible dissenters that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the side’s undisputed leader.

What exactly is Virender Sehwag’s injury? This is a question that nobody in the BCCI is willing to answer, writes The Times Of India. Not even the selectors who received a ‘directive’ not to consider Sehwag for the 15-member Asia Cup team and thus ‘rested’ the opener. The board may not have a direct answer but the news coming out from its own corridors is that Sehwag has been dropped because he refused to follow the BCCI’s instruction to cooperate in issuing a joint statement with captain M S Dhoni to the media in Australia, writes the national daily.

“Following controversial reports of the spat between Sehwag and Dhoni, the BCCI had asked the two players to read out a joint statement at a press conference in Australia so that the various gossip theories floating around could be contained. It is learnt that the board told the two players that the statement would be drafted by the BCCI and sent to them following which Dhoni would read it out in front of the media. No additional questions would be taken other than the reading of the ‘joint statement’ and Sehwag would only be present there but not comment.  Dhoni, it appears, agreed to the board’s diktat but Sehwag refused and was consequently ‘rested’ by the selectors. “If the so-called spat needed any further convincing, the board has done it,” a source told TOI.

Meanwhile, board officials maintained that Sehwag had been ‘rested’ because medical reports suggested that he needed the break. Speaking to media post Wednesday’s selection committee meeting, chairman of selectors Krishnamachari Srikkanth said: “He (Sehwag) and Zaheer Khan have not been dropped. They have been rested and the decision has been taken following the physio’s report. We have selected the best team possible taking into account the fitness report (of players) from the physio and the board.

“We had a good consultation with the team management too. It took some time as we wanted to have a clear understanding by talking to people in Australia and get everything sorted out,” Srikkanth added.

When the media refused to buy his statement, the normally unflappable Srikkanth lost his cool and asked the reporters to “shut up”.

The board and the chief selector chose to blame the media for constant speculation.