T20 World Cup: Did Sehwag show a lack of respect for Bangladesh cricket?

Shakib Al Hasan’s comment goes viral after Indian great’s dig at Bangladesh ‘standard’ in general

Virender Sehwag (left) and Shakib Al Hasan
Virender Sehwag (left) and Shakib Al Hasan

NH Sports Bureau

Virender Sehwag, the Indian dasher, may have developed his own cult following as a TV pundit, but a particular comment on senior Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan over the past week was certainly over the top. While Shakib’s retort of "Sehwag, who?" at a post-match press conference on Thursday has gone viral, Sehwag’s lack of finesse after the former’s cheap dismissal against South Africa has created ripples in the neighbouring country.

Earlier this week, Shakib had fallen to a poor shot against Anrich Nortje during their agonising four-run loss to the Proteas, as the former Bangladesh captain fell for just eight and three runs against Sri Lanka and South Africa, respectively. A livid Sehwag said on Cricbuzz that Shakib should be ashamed of his performance and immediately retire from this format.

Nothing wrong with that, given that the 37-year-old allrounder’s form has been in terminal decline for a number of years, including the last 50-over World Cup in India where Bangladesh looked a shadow of the spunky team they once were in the white-ball format. However, Sehwag took his criticism below the belt when he said Shakib should be mindful of Bangladesh’s standard in the game while attempting a hook or pull shot early on in the innings.    

“If he (Shakib) was included in the squad for experience, we were not able to see it. At least spend some time at the wicket, it is not like you are (Matthew) Hayden or (Adam) Gilchrist who can play a pull shot off a short ball, you are just a player from Bangladesh. Play according to your standards. When you are not able to hook or pull, just play the strokes you know,’’ Sehwag said.

It's one thing for an expert to advise against impetuous strokes, but it’s quite another to pass a sweeping comment like "just a player from Bangladesh". The demands of the T20 format have frequently induced such strokes in the name of fearless cricket, something some of the biggest names of Indian cricket can also be accused of, and to pass a sweeping comment to play according to their standards was presumptuous.

Incidentally, Shakib’s all-round performance in the very next game against associates Netherlands (64 not out off 46 balls; 0/29) won him the player of the match and gave the Bangla Tigers a much-needed push to make the Super Eight.

They are now second in Group D with two wins and a win against Nepal in their final group match on Sunday will take them through. If they lose, Bangladesh will have to bank on Sri Lanka to beat Netherlands.

Asked by a Bangladesh journalist about Sehwag’s criticism, Shakib interrupted the question by asking: ‘’Who?’’ He, however, was then logical in his reply: ‘’I think it is important for a current player (to see) how much he can contribute to his team. When he can’t contribute, then naturally there will be discussions, and I don’t think it is a bad thing,’’ he added.

Incidentally, the Bangladesh cricket community has not taken kindly to Sehwag’s seeming lack of respect for the neighbours’ cricketing strength. Imrul Kayes, a former Bangladesh opener, said: ‘’This is not the first time he has said such things about Bangladesh or its cricketers. He did this once earlier as well when he said Bangladesh don’t have the ability to pick 20 wickets in a Test match.

"I don’t know what a legendary batter like him thinks before making such statements. Big names like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid would never pull down a player because they know how to respect other players.’’

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