New Delhi: Kings XI Punjab head coach Sanjay Bangar, who is also a key member of the Indian team’s support staff, believes out-of-favour opener Virender Sehwag is capable of making a national comeback despite being on the wrong side of 30s.
Bangar’s assessment of Sehwag, who is 36, comes after he observed him at the Kings XI Punjab’s training camp in Pune ahead of the IPL opener against Rajasthan Royals on April 10.
“Yes most definitely, he can,” Bangar told PTI when asked about Sehwag’s return to the national fold. The dashing opener last played for India in March 2013.
“He is very motivated. He is working a lot on his fitness. He had a decent first class season too. We were practising match situations yesterday and he was outstanding in that. As it is we all know, the kind of cricket he can play,” said India’s assistant coach.
Sehwag is expected to open alongside new recruit Murali Vijay though the team also has a back-up in Manan Vohra.
Bangar, who has earned rich praise through his India stint, said everyone in the team including Sehwag will have to play well to figure in the eleven.
“Whether it is Vijay or Viru, there is competition for every slot in our team. Whoever is hitting the ball well under pressure situations, is in peak form and fitness, will get a go,” asserted Bangar.
Sehwag looked in good touch in the two recent T20 games he played for Delhi, scoring 85 and 39 against J&K and Punjab respectively.
Kings XI was the most dominating team in the league stage of IPL 2014 but failed to replicate the form in the all important final.
The core of the squad remains the same with only three players bought at the February auction. Bangar sounded upbeat about the upcoming season before stressing that it was important to build on the positives of last season.
“The good thing is all of our boys have been involved with playing the game at some level. Lots of them have done well in the domestic season, so it augurs well for the team.
The Indian fast bowlers look in fine touch especially the likes of Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Rishi Dhawan,” he said.
IPL is placed less than two weeks after a long World Cup but fatigue is not an issue for the team with all their star players available for the first game.
“Most of the senior players have joined the camp and today evening we are also expecting the arrival of Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Marsh. The good thing is that they all are available for selection.
“Taking time off after a tournament like World Cup is important and luckily most teams had decent gaps in between games in Australia. So fatigue is not really a factor,” said Bangar.
Though he agreed that the likes of Johnson, Glenn Maxwell and David Miller remain key players, the team was not at all about them, said Bangar.
“If you see, the second half of IPL 2014 was clearly more about Indian players. Manan, Sandeep and Saha (Wriddhiman) did well in the knock-outs. We are not banking on any one individual to fire.
“It’s a team game and small contribution towards the end can actually make a major difference in the outcome of the game.”
Bangar was part of Indian set-up that failed to beat Australia in Australia for four months and he is now working alongside leading Australia players for his franchise. How does he see the role change?
“IPL is a different concept altogether and nowadays with this tournament, the gap between our players and foreigners have bridged quite a lot. We understand their culture, they have a fair idea of how our culture is.
“It has become quite easy. IPL is anyway for five or six weeks, it is about getting together in a short time,” concluded Bangar.