Kolkata: After hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni was retained as the wicketkeeper for India’s campaign in the upcoming Champions Trophy, the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad hailed the former skipper as the, “best wicketkeeper in the world.” He however dodged a question on the star cricketer’s batting form.
On questioned whether Dhoni’s current batting form was a part of the discussions in the selection committee’s meeting or not, he said, “How many of us believe this fact that MSD is still the best wicketkeeper in the world? We still believe he is still the best wicketkeeper. We are only focusing on his batting form.”
He further added, “He is an invaluable asset to this team when it comes to crunch situations. (On) his inputs, he has got one of the best brains and he is the best person to guide Virat. Not many people realise that in the last 10 to 15 years that he has been playing for the country, he has never had a bad day with the wicketkeeping gloves. We (the country) always treat him more like a batsman, but the phenomenal stuff that he does behind the wickets…not many people appreciate it.”
“According to me, he is still the best wicketkeeper in the world” said Prasad , who was earlier blamed for playing a part in Dhoni’s retirement from the captaincy from India’s limited overs set up.
The right-hander has had a quiet IPL so far going by his standards as he has scored just 235 runs from the 12 games that he has played. His spectacular unbeaten 61 some time back took us back to those days where he displatched bowlers at will and was one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket.
He gave up the captaincy of India’s limited overs teams to Virat Kohli , before the ODI series against England. In the series, it was seen that the former skipper regularly came into bat at number 5. On asked whether a similar thing would happen in the Champions Trophy as well, Prasad said, “That is up to the combination and let the team management decide that.”
The Indian selection committee opted to go for experience rather than youth in picking India’s 15 member squad for the mega world event starting from June.
“We considered Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Shardul Thakur. They are in our standby list for the Champions Trophy. We discussed Kuldeep. He narrowly missed out, but has a big role to play in future. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya are youngsters we’ve been grooming. We’re extremely pleased with Rishabh and will groom him too” said Prasad, who believed that these youngsters were actually a part of the BCCI’s long term plans.
He further added that they needed to evaluate other aspects of their games as well and not just simply focus on their IPL performances, which have been really good so far. Prasad said, “IPL is a very, very glamorous tournament. It is our premier domestic tournament and best tournament in the world. There are no two ways about it. When we consider for a 50-over tournament, we have to see other aspects as well.”
He further went on add, “We have to see all-round capabilities as well. Yes, we are really happy that some of the boys like (Rahul) Tripathi, Basil Thampi and the way they are shaping up (sic). It is a wonderful platform and from here we will keep them under our radar and we will groom them.”
India’s ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been on a rampaging form in Test cricket but hasn’t been in that great a touch when it came to playing in the 50 over format. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t been able to complete his quota of ten overs in some ODI games which is a sign of worry. On asked whether they took into consideration the offie’s form in the shorter versions of the game, he said,
“It is not that Ashwin is out of form (and) because of the form of Ashwin we considered Kuldeep. It is because of the qualities of Kuldeep that we have considered him (in the past). This is the way we were actually preparing him (Ashwin) for the Champions Trophy and some of those senior cricketers.”
On asked as to whether new skipper Virat Kohli insisted on having an extra batsman or a bowler (spinner) in the team, MSK clarified that the selectors’ call in such a topic is final.
“It is a combination of all of them and not just what one person thinks. There are three selectors also working on it. We definitely take the suggestions, but it is the selectors who take the final call.”
For Virat Kohli, this would be his first major assignment as captain of the Indian team and he would definitely look up to his experienced teammates to put up a fight in England, where they begin their title defense on the 4th of June against arch-rivals Pakistan.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times)