BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad has made a loaded remark on the future of former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Prasad made it clear that the team had “moved on” (from Dhoni). Dhoni does not fit into his scheme of things. Prasad prefers Rishabh Pant as the first-choice wicketkeeper. Sanju Samson is brought in as the back-up. The problem is that Prasad’s statement is in complete contrast to the recent statement of board president Sourav Ganguly.
Ganguly had said after assuming the job of the BCCI president that Dhoni alone would decide when to retire. But if Prasad sidelines Dhoni from international cricket and he does not play much in domestic cricket, what option will Dhoni have left besides retiring?
Prasad said after the selection committee meeting held on 24 October, “I made it very clear post the World Cup that we are moving on. We are giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side. With Rishabh Pant doing so well and even Sanju Samson coming into the side, I am sure you must be understanding our thought process.”
The other issue with Prasad’s preference is that Pant’s recent performance has not been good. Pant’s performance is important, too. He has scored 20 in three ODIs since the World Cup and 92 in five T20 matches. Even behind the wicket, he has made many big mistakes. There is no consistency in Pant’s performance and perhaps because of this, the selectors have called Samson as their backup. Samson has shown promise again in tournaments like Vijay Hazare Trophy and while playing for India A.
Ganguly has thrown his weight behind Dhoni, though. Now, whatever the selectors say, it is not possible to drop Dhoni unceremoniously.
Prasad’s term will end in 2020. If he sticks to his stand until then, Dhoni can return to the team only after that. The selectors had recalled Ashish Nehra after five years before the 2016 T20 World Cup. Now, Dhoni is still out for three months.
Amidst all this, it has to be seen what is going on in Dhoni’s mind. He has always been known for doing what he wants to do.
Test team: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Riddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Shubman Gill
T20 team: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Washington Sundar, Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rahul Chahar, Deepak Chahar, Khalil Ahmed, Shivam Dubey, Shardul Thakur.
Exposure of Prasad to international cricket
Prasad started his cricket career with the Andhra Pradesh Ranji team. He made his international debut with the India-A Team during the bilateral cricket series with Pakistan-A in 1997-98. He got a lucky break in the 1999 Cricket World Cup when the regular wicketkeeper Nayan Mongia got injured. In 1999-2000 he played six test matches – three each against Australia and New Zealand. However, after this, his form dipped and he averaged only 8 runs with the bat. That ended his brief international career.