Virender Sehwag has indicated that he will retire from international cricket in order to take part in the Masters Champions League (MCL), a UAE-based Twenty20 tournament.
The rules of the MCL, which is scheduled to begin in January, state that players taking part must have retired from all international formats. On Monday, while reminded of this stipulation at an MCL event in Dubai, Sehwag said he would retire in order to play the tournament.
He later confirmed the news in a video interview with The Quint. “Yes I’m going to play this tournament,” he said. “I will retire soon from international cricket. I’ll announce it officially and then you people can get to know that and then I can take part in this tournament.”
Sehwag added that his retirement would not just be from international cricket but the IPL as well. “I’ll retire from international cricket and IPL so I will not be playing those leagues,” he said. “So I will play only MCL.”
Asked if he would miss international cricket, Sehwag gave a typically matter-of-fact reply. “The last couple of years I’m not playing. So I was missing [it] but now I am taking this decision that I’m going to retire very soon, so I’m pretty happy with my career.”
Before his trip to Dubai, Sehwag had been captaining Haryana in the Ranji Trophy, and had scored two half-centuries in their first two matches of the season. He will be joining his Haryana team-mates in Mysore on October 21, and the Haryana Cricket Association secretary Anirudh Chaudhry has indicated Sehwag will play the rest of the season for the team.
The MCL, scheduled to start in January 2016, is due to feature a number of retired international greats. On Monday, the homepage of the MCL website sported an image of eight players lined up side-by-side, seen from the back. On the backs of seven T-shirts were the names ‘Sangakkara’, ‘Gilchrist’, ‘Sehwag’, ‘Lara’, ‘Wasim’, ‘Kallis’ and ‘Mahela’, with a question mark on the back of the eighth T-shirt. The MCL event did not declare names of the franchise teams that will be competing in the event.
Sehwag, a day short of his 37th birthday, is widely considered one of India’s greatest opening batsmen, and revolutionised the art of batting against the new ball in Test cricket with his aggressive approach, scoring at a strike rate of over 80 in the longest format. Sehwag has been out of India’s plans for over two years, having last played for the national side in the Hyderabad Test against Australia in March 2013.
Sehwag played 104 Tests, 251 ODIs and 19 T20Is, scoring over 17000 international runs and picking up 136 wickets with his offspin. His greatest moments came in Test cricket, where he made 23 hundreds including the only two triple-centuries by any Indian batsman, while his ODI achievements included the format’s second double-hundred.