India’s chief cricket selector MSK Prasad has warned underperforming players that they could be axed from the squad if they do not make the most of the opportunities given to them.
In an interview with the Times of India after the Indian team’s 1-4 defeat in the Test series in England, Prasad spoke about a number of things, including the way forward.
Asked about the failure of India’s batsmen in England, apart from captain Virat Kohli, Prasad agreed that the openers could have done better but added that even England failed in that department. He also seemed to take a dig at the team management for constantly chopping and changing the Test XI.
“When we pick players for particular slots, they should be given enough opportunities before we move on and look at youngsters,” Prasad was quoted as saying. “Yes, our openers could have done better. Having said that, the England openers also failed miserably. The conditions were tough and the openers of both the teams failed.”
Prasad, however, defended India’s Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, saying they have done well in the No 3 and No 5 slots over the last few years. Pujara scored a century and a half-century in four Tests, while Rahane had two fifties to his name in five Tests. “They have enough experience behind them to be the mainstay of our middle order. They did well here too but they could have been a bit more consistent,” he said.
Prasad then warned underperforming players, saying, “After giving enough opportunities, if the players don’t deliver then in all fairness we need to look at youngsters who are doing well on the domestic cricket circuit and for India ‘A’.”
India’s next big test in the five-day format will come during their tour of Australia in November. Virat Kohli’s team is scheduled to play four Tests Down Under. Prasad said that while the Indian team’s bowling looks sorted, they need to consolidate their batting department. The 43-year-old even said that the Board of Control for Cricket in India will try and send the team’s Test specialists early to Australia to get some match practice ahead of the series.
Prasad also said that like Kohli had been rested for the Asia Cup, the selection committee also plans to give some more players a break during the upcoming home series against West Indies before the Australia tour. With regard to the one-day squad ahead of next year’s World Cup, Prasad said that the selection panel already had a blueprint read, with only “a few spots left to be cemented”.