The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s chairman of selectors MSK Prasad threw his weight behind young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, hailing him as a “champion in the making”, PTI reported.
After being “rested” for the One-day International series against Australia and New Zealand, there have been conjectures about his place in India’s World Cup-bound squad but Prasad set the record straight about selection committee’s plans about talents such as Pant and Shubman Gill.
“Rishabh Pant played three T20s and four Test matches in Australia and that had an impact on his body. He needed complete rest for two weeks and then we will take a call on how many matches he will play against England Lions. Let me put it straight, he is very much in our World Cup plans. He is a champion player in the making and even he is not fully aware the kind of potential he has,” Prasad said.
Prasad is happy that Pant is now understanding what skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri expect of him. “Ravi and Virat had advised him to put his head down and respect the match situation, and he did exactly that,” Prasad said, referring to the 21-year-old’s century at Sydney.
“He proved that he can switch gears seamlessly. When we picked him for Tests, experts were skeptical about his keeping but 11 catches in a Test in England, record dismissals in Australia series proves that selection committee is vindicated,” he added.
‘Shubman is ready’
The former India keeper also talked up rising star Shubman Gill, who got his first call-up to the India squad on Sunday.
“Shubman is comfortable both opening the innings as well as playing in the middle-order. For New Zealand series, we are looking at him as the reserve opener behind Shikhar (Dhawan) and Rohit (Sharma). I won’t comment if he will make it to World Cup but he was phenomenal as an opener for India A in New Zealand.
“We have discussed with Rahul (Dravid), that Shubman is ready for international cricket. The best part is the clutch of A tours which has made all these players battle ready for the biggest challenge.”
The likes of Hanuma Vihari, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Khaleel Ahmed have all been impressive in international cricket in recent times.
“I regularly discuss the progress of the players with Ravi and Rahul. Have a look at how we have planned a player’s progression from Ranji Trophy, A team to senior team. Look at Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal.....they don’t look intimidated when thrown into the deep end of the pool,” said Prasad.
The 43-year-old pointed out some brave selection calls that have paid off in recent times. Replacing senior pros Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal is a case in point.
“We received flak when we had replaced world’s No 1 and 2 spinner (as per ICC Rankings) with two young wrist spinners. One-and-a-half years down the line, they (Kuldeep and Chahal) have had a contribution in at least 70 percent of India’s limited-overs wins.”
The chairman of selectors also spoke about how they had to go against the popular opinion when they rested Jasprit Bumrah for the two Tests against the West Indies.
“Trust me, had Jasprit played those two Tests against West Indies, he wouldn’t have played all four Tests against Australia. The support staff has really monitored him well. He is now fitter and stronger, and with Bharath Arun continuously working with him, he has improved as a bowler,” Prasad said.
“But a lot of credit should go to Jasprit because Arun gave him a plan but it was up to him to make the effort to implement the plan. He has really worked hard. When we first picked him, so many were skeptical whether it was prudent to pick a white ball specialist but at the end of the year, we can all see the results.”