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‘You don’t lose WC final because of one individual’: Sehwag shuts down critics questioning PM’s dressing room visit

Pictures from the Indian dressing room went viral, showing PM Modi shaking hands with the players and sharing a warm hug with speedster Mohammad Shami, who emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.

New Delhi : Weighing in on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the India dressing room after skipper and his ‘Men in Blue’ went down to Australia in the World Cup, dashing a billion hopes of a third world crown in the 50-over format, former opener Virender Sehwag on Saturday hailed what he called a ‘rare gesture’ by the country’s most powerful leader to lift the spirits in the change room.

Pictures from the Indian dressing room went viral, showing PM Modi shaking hands with the players and sharing a warm hug with speedster Mohammad Shami, who emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the tournament.

PM Modi commended how the team went 10 matches unbeaten in the tournament before finally coming unstuck in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

Speaking to ANI, Sehwag said, “It is very rare for a prime minister to meet players in the dressing room and lift their spirits after a crushing defeat. I have never seen a prime minister taking time out of his busy schedule to lend a shoulder to players heartbroken after a defeat. It was an incredible gesture by Prime Minister Modi to visit the dressing room and boost the morale of the boys. It was a time when the boys needed some hand-holding, a gesture of solidarity and support. In such lows, you need someone to comfort you like family members do. I believe it was a touching gesture that will go a long way to motivating our boys ahead of future engagements, especially multilateral events. It will motivate us to cross the final hurdle next time.”

Amid the uproar around the statements of some Opposition leaders, blaming PM Modi’s attendance in the final for the team’s defeat in the World Cup final, the former India batting stalwart and ICC Hall-of-Famer said, “You don’t lose a World Cup final because of any single individual. Our loss to Australia will spur us to chase glory in the next World Cup final.”

Raising the hackles of the BJP, Congress leader Rahul, addressing a public event in Rajasthan’s Barmer, blamed India’s defeat on PM Modi, calling him a ‘Panauti’ (one who brings bad luck).

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also took a dig at PM Modi, claiming that India would have won had the World Cup final been hosted at Wankhede (the venue for the 2011 World Cup final that India won) or the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, instead of a stadium named after himself.

In the video of PM Modi’s visit to the India dressing room, he was seen holding the hands of skipper Rohit Sharma and batting talisman Virat Kohli, who aggregated the most runs at the event.

PM Modi was heard exhorting them to smile as the country was watching them. “Desh aap ko dekh raha hai (the country is watching you),” PM Modi told Rohit and Virat inside the dressing room.

Scoffing at the Opposition leaders over their remarks, the former India opener said, “Everyone was behind this team when they were doing so well. And, on a rare bad in office, when they lost the final, everyone should have come out in their support instead of making such remarks. There are few PMs or leaders who visit a dressing room after a defeat. Hence, for PM Modi to visit our boys and lift their spirits would serve as an inspiration not just for cricket but also for other sports. It will serve as a huge motivation.”

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri, too, hailed PM Modi’s gesture of visiting the dressing room and catching up with the ‘Men in Blue’.

“I think it’s an outstanding gesture simply because I know what a dressing room feels like and I have been in that dressing room for more than seven years as a coach of India, apart from many years as a cricketer. It is a gut-wrenching feeling and when you are down. When you get someone like the Prime Minister of the country coming and visiting the dressing room, it is something massive because it can lift the spirits of the players. This is no ordinary man walking in. When you have Prime Minister of a country walking into the dressing room, it is special. I know what the players would have felt like, I know what I would have felt like you know if I was a coach of India in that moment,” Shastri said.