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Feb 06, 2012 at 02:05pm IST

Dhoni defends decision to leave out Viru

Melbourne: Was Virender Sehwag dropped or rested for the tri-series opener against Australia on Sunday? The swashbuckling opener was seen practicing at the indoor nets here at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) when MS Dhoni and Michael Clarke strode out to the middle for the toss. Dhoni said after winning the toss and electing to bowl: "Sides here have chased really well. It is important to restrict sides. Sachin (Tendulkar) is back, we have rested Sehwag. That is the only change from the last Twenty20 we played."

In the post-match media briefing, Dhoni explained the reason to leave out his deputy. "It wasn't about injury. Quite a few players have some niggles. Also, we want to make Rohit (Sharma) play because an experienced player (like Sehwag) can go in and out of the side because of the experience they have.

"For Rohit, it may be tough to do that because if he doesn't get going (early in the tournament), then during the latter half of the series, he may all of a sudden find himself playing a game without any match practice under him. So, that was the thinking (behind the decision)," he said.

Dhoni defends decision to leave out Sehwag

MS Dhoni cited a long tri-series ahead as the reason behind leaving out Sehwag for the first match.

"Overall, we have to look at the strength of the side since it's a fairly long tournament. We play eight games before going into the final," he said.

Zaheer Khan was the other major absentee in India's playing XI. When asked if game one of the tri-series wasn't important enough, Dhoni said, "Of course, every game is important. What you need to see is the overall strength. Every loss is disappointing.

"There aren't any major injuries. If somebody can be rested and the overall strength remains, then why not make changes? "Zak (Zaheer Khan) has a bit of a problem. He has a problem with his right or left knee. He should hopefully be fit for the next game."

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