He is the second most senior player in India's current ODI squad but playing like a spoiled brat who refuses to tone himself down, change with time and assume responsibility. Virender Sehwag's failure is hurting India as much as his success benefits the team. And despite failing repeatedly, the opener is showing no signs of an attempt to moderate himself, indicating he doesn't acknowledge the sorry state of Indian cricket.
There was a time when with the Tendulkars, Gangulys and Dravids in the XI, Sehwag could take that extra liberty to go slam-bang at the top. Not anymore. Not only have those big names disappeared, but also the youngsters are proving to be square pegs in round holes. That, in fact, also tells that the Delhi dasher isn't proving to be an inspiration in the dressing room, and he can't, until he plays like a responsible senior.
With Sehwag's poor form and to some extent numb attitude, India lose on two fronts: a game-changer on the ground and a shepherd off it. Not that he will teach youngsters the correct way to move their feet or the need for a straight elbow. Instead, Sehwag will tell them how to perform under the pressures of international cricket – day in and day out. That's how he himself benefited under Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid and Laxman. Sadly now, when it's time to repay, Sehwag is proving to be a disappointment.
Being an opener in every format, Sehwag's continuing failures put added pressure on the team. Perhaps India could have coped with that in the early 2000s but asking youngsters, however talented they may be, to repeatedly bat at 20 for 2 is a bit too demanding. One may counter that argument saying that Dravid did that in his early days, but there are great players and there are good players. India's great players have left. The young crop we have now comprises only good players, who need experienced ones like Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Gautam Gambhir to act like guides if India were to come out of this slide and rebuild in the next couple of years.
Somewhere down the line it seems Sehwag clenches his fists on the topic of captaincy. His desire to lead India is not a secret, but when you let it affect your mindset, you lose the chance to become a great player. Sehwag averaged just over 21 last year, with a solitary fifty. His dismissals in the ongoing series against Pakistan point yet again to a man fading, or perhaps having lost it.
Ajinkya Rahane is ready and a capable opener. He deserves an extended run at the top of the order in ODIs. But if Sehwag stay in the team just on reputation, he will be doing nothing but blocking the path of a deserving youngster.
On honest grounds, India needs Sehwag - badly. Not only can he still win matches on his own but he is one player who has an infectious rub when on song. His spark at the top can ignite the whole team, and it's not a myth. We have seen that happen and there's no reason why it can't happen again – provided Sehwag ticks a few boxes during the remaining couple of years left in him.