Trying various options at number four, says Prasad

Trying various options at number four, says Prasad

There has been a lot of debate going on over who should be batting at No 4 in ODIs ever since the Indian cricket team management decided to do a few experiments -- in other words, using different players at that position to see their suitability once it was decided to do away with Yuvraj Singh.

Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav have been tried out with mixed results and selection committee chairman MSK Prasad admitted that the uncertainty with regard to that spot had left them concerned. 

“The team management, the selection committee… All of us are definitely concerned about it (No 4 slot),” Prasad said here on Monday. “And that’s the reason we are trying (different players) before a big event comes up or before we finalise a final squad for a major event; by then we will try out different options, and there are some of the guys who are doing (well) at India A level. We will keep trying options before we close in on a particular squad,” he explained.

Prasad had announced in Sri Lanka that KL Rahul was their first-choice player at No 4 and he will be given chances to prove his worth there. But the right-hander finds himself out of the ODI squad after just one failure in that position. Prasad was at pains to justify Rahul’s exclusion.

“The potential that K L Rahul has, it is unfortunate that we are not able to accommodate him, so we tried him at the number four slot, and unfortunate that it did not work out. But basically we know that Rahul is an opener, so since Ajinkya Rahane has done well, it makes sense to continue with Ajinkya and bring in a specialist at number four spot,” he said pointing to the inclusion of Dinesh Karthik.

It’s a different matter that Karthik batted at No 5 with Jadhav walking at No 4 against New Zealand on Monday.

The former India wicketkeeper also was not convincing while justifying the inclusion of Ashish Nehra for just the first T20I against New Zealand in Delhi where he will retire from all forms of cricket.     

"There are a lot of apprehensions going on about Ashish Nehra, I will make it very clear and candid. We have clearly communicated to the player and the team management that we are only looking at him till the New Zealand series… We are happy that the player also took it in the right spirit that the new generation is coming up and instead of waiting till the end of New Zealand series, he felt that Delhi game itself he will quit,” he offered.

Prasad, however, was noncommittal when asked if Nehra would play the Delhi game.

Prasad also felt compelled to convince the media that Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri were not dominating selection committee. “With regard to our relationship with team management, it has been cordial so far,” he stressed. “There is a lot of speculation that the team management is dominating, which is not right. They are very much on advisory board and that’s all. We take their suggestion and pick the team and there is also a selector on call (while selecting the XI), so we work in unison.”

The panel has picked a 16-member squad for the first two Tests against Sri Lanka, an unusual practice for a home series for which normally only 15 players are selected. Prasad, once again, was vague in his reply.

“Well... we have covered different.... aspects,” he hesitated. “We have strengthened every department, spin department, medium pace department… We have covered everything. With so much of domestic cricket going on, some of the players can be released for domestic games. We will definitely work on that. From September 1, the new rules have come with regard to a 16-member squad. Even a wicketkeeper can be substituted with a wicketkeeper,” he elaborated.

The only issue is there is no wicketkeeper other than Wriddhiman Saha and they have Rohit Sharma who is definitely going to sit out. Of course, there is no pressure from the team management!

DH News Service

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