Colombo: Virender Sehwag`s prolonged form slump has become a cause of concern but the struggling opener received the backing of another swashbuckler Sanath Jayasuriya who said India needed an "impact player" like him to win matches.
"I find it difficult to understand why people criticise a match-winner like Sehwag. He is an impact player. Sehwag will not score 80 or 100 everyday but whenever he scores at least 70 at the top of the order, be rest assured that India will win matches more often than not," Jayasuriya said.
Sehwag is just a couple of weeks shy of his 34th birthday, but Jayasuriya doesn`t agree that age is catching up with the `Nawab of Najafgarh`, whose game depends a lot on hand-eye co-ordination.
"I still don`t know why a few failures always raise this question of age being a factor. A couple of failures don`t suddenly make you old. If one is fit and motivated, age is not a factor," the 43-year-old former Sri Lankan captain stated.
As the discussion veered towards Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s captaincy, Jayasuriya, a veteran of 110 Tests and 445 ODIs, felt he should "learn from his mistakes".
"Captaincy is always a learning process. Just because Dhoni has lost eight Test matches doesn`t make him a bad captain overnight."
"Yes, there has been criticism about his captaincy. I believe everyone makes mistakes and learns from them. Dhoni should also take the criticism in his stride and try to improve. If you know exactly where you went wrong, it helps you in improving your game," said Jayasuriya.
The Indian team`s bowling has been under the scanner and Jayasuriya said that in the T20 format "one bowler would always go for some runs but one needs to ensure that all bowlers don`t get hit simultaneously".
"I don`t know whether India need to play an extra bowler, but if all your bowlers get hit, then there is a problem. India have a reasonably good attack, but they should have defended a 180-plus target against Pakistan in that warm-up game," Jayasuriya said.
The former skipper also seemed quite happy that Ajantha Mendis has roared back to form with a splendid six-wicket haul against Zimbabwe.
"I am really happy for Ajantha. In the past few seasons, he has had injuries and that affected his performance. He needs to play for a longer period of time as that will benefit Sri Lankan cricket. It`s great to see him come up and do well for the country."
Jayasurita, the `Player of the Tournament` in the 1996 ODI World Cup, felt that this current Sri Lankan team has a very good chance of winning the World Twenty20.
"We do have a very good chance of winning the tournament. It`s not because we are playing in home conditions but also for the fact that we have a team that has the ability to click as a unit," Jayasuriya insisted.
A member of the Sri Lankan parliament, Jayasuriya is busy looking after the people of his constituency, Matara, these days.
"I have joined politics to give back something to the society. I want to contribute to the well-being of the people of my constituency. My main focus is increasing employment opportunities in Matara. The people here are very poor and they need jobs. Also, there are roads and electricity problems, which I need to address. I must say that I am getting lot of support from the government in my endeavour."
The dashing opener recently was a guest participant in an Indian dance reality show `Jhalak Dikhla Ja`, and he is happy to have treaded an off-beat path.
"It was a big challenge. My start was not great but I improved gradually. I kept things simple. In Sri Lanka, there was mixed response from the people. Some really liked my performance while others questioned why I needed to participate," he said.
First Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012, 18:11