Sehwag compels people to watch the game, says Hayden

Back in India for the second edition of the Indian Premier League, former Australia opener Matthew Hayden on Friday attributed India’s growing stature in Tests and ODIs to the IPL and the country’s Twenty20 World Cup triumph.

“India was focused towards Tests and ODIs but the win in the T20 World Cup has changed all that and the IPL has brought out some excellent players,” said Hayden, who addressed the media after his training session with the Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk, in Chennai on Friday.

The burly left-hander, who retired from international cricket after the third Test against South Africa in January following a string of sub-par performances, said he would be missing the Chepauk stadium after the IPL was shifted to South Africa since its dates were clashing with the Lok Sabha elections.

“I am really disappointed, I will be missing Chepauk,” said the 37-year-old Hayden.

However, he said fans can expect fireworks in South Africa where small grounds and high altitude will ensure tall scores.

“Bowlers will have a chance there (in South Africa) but small grounds and high altitude will ensure high scores there too,” he said, adding that the IPL will “take the game to a wider audience”.

Having been there and done that, Hayden’s job would be to guide the juniors in the Chennai Super Kings team which had finished runners-up in the inaugural year.

“As a senior player I will always be around to help them and also continue to contribute,” said the left-handed batsman who has to his credit a double century here.

Hayden also praised Virender Sehwag and termed the swashbuckling batsman as a huge crowd puller.

“Sehwag is an awesome talent with a great track record. He is a player who compels people to watch the game.”

Talking about his retirement, Hayden said, “I was forced to play too many roles. There was a lot of pressure but I have always enjoyed it and performed well when I was under the scanner. As a professional athlete you have to be selfish sometimes and single minded, after sometime the intensity goes down and that is the time to quit.

“I have had no press conferences to attend. I am relaxed, working on my fitness and getting strong.”

He also felt Australia have come back strongly ever since the Test and ODI series loss at home to South Africa.

“They have come back strongly,” Hayden said about the Ricky Ponting-led side that clinched the Test series in South Africa 2-1 and retained their supremacy in the ICC Test Championship.

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