Johannesburg: Virender Sehwag has not been having a great time on the field. Criticised for his form, of late the dashing opener has often been plagued by injuries as well.
With a long season awaiting Team India, the Champions League T20 would be an excellent 'practice pitch' for Sehwag to find his strokes back. But an ankle injury had almost ruined that possibility.
However, the opener had a reason to smile when he was declared fit for the Delhi DareDevils' opening CLT20 game against the Kolkata Knight Riders, at Centurion, on Saturday.
On Thursday, Sehwag reportedly gave a fitness test. He not only cleared that scrutiny, he also went on to play in the DareDevils' warm-up game, against CLT20 competitors the Sydney Sixers.
According to a cricket website, DareDevils' team mentor, TA Sekar, confirmed that Sehwag was fit. Sekar, in fact, said that the batsman had obtained a fitness clearance before flying to South Africa.
An agency report, however, painted a very different picture. As per that report, Sehwag underwent a fitness test on Thursday under the watchful eyes of Kirk Russell.
"Virender Sehwag today appeared for a fitness test which was conducted by Kirk Russell. He cleared the test and was declared fit to play in the tournament from the start," the agency report quoted a DareDevils official as saying.
Sehwag was initially doubtful for the CLT20, after straining a ligament in his left ankle during India's World T20 Super Eights match against South Africa, in Colombo, on October 2. He had gone off the field during the Proteas innings and did not return. It was reported that he could require two weeks of rest.
Sehwag has been troubled by fitness issues over the past one year. After the 2011 World Cup, he had delayed a shoulder surgery, played the IPL and then subsequently missed India's tour of the West Indies and half of the Test series in England.
Then, earlier this year, towards the end of the Australia tour, he had back spasms. That was the reason for the selectors to rest him for the Asia Cup.
Sehwag will not captain the DareDevils at the CLT20 since he had asked the franchise to relieve him of the responsibility so he could concentrate on his batting.
However, Thursday's practice match didn't go along the expected lines for the opener, as he was yorked for nought by Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood.
The DareDevils managed only 107 against the Big Bash champions. DareDevils captain Mahela Jayawardene and star opener David Warner didn't play the game. While Warner was rested, Jayawardene had an appointment with the dentist and was unavailable for the match.
The Knights, too, had a practice game on the day. But their match against South African side Highveld Lions was washed out robbing Gautam Gambhir's side some much-needed match practice.