Former Indian cricketer and chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar blasted the current Indian selectors for failing to solve India’s middle-order problems that largely contributed to India’s exit from the World Cup at the semi-final stage.
India suffered a batting collapse against New Zealand in the semi-final that exposed their fragile middle order. Late heroics from Ravindra Jadeja and MS Dhoni took India close but it didn’t prove to be enough.
Vengsarkar expressed surprise at India picking three wicket-keepers ahead of a pure batsmen in the squad for the World Cup.
“You are playing three wicketkeepers. Aapke pass batsmen hain nahi kya India mein (Don’t you have batsmen in India)? What is the point of domestic cricket, if you cannot spot talent and try to groom it for the international level. Or is it complete absence (talent) of it? I can’t believe it as lakhs of people are playing in India. In 50 overs, you need four or five batsmen,” Vengsarkar told The Indian Express.
“When you’re dependent only on three players, how can you expect to win? In every match, the top three was in great form but in the semi-finals, anything can happen. One good ball and you are gone. I had said this before, you need to have someone like Ajinkya Rahane or (Cheteshwar) Pujara, who have done very well in England and have explored the conditions,” he added.
The former World Cup winner felt India lacked experience in their reserves which always becomes a problem in big tournaments like the World Cup.
“Keep experienced player as a back-up. For back-up, India had (Rishabh) Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav. If you have such kind of selection, the result is there for everyone to see,” he stated.
Vengsarkar also raised questions over the exclusion of Ambati Rayudu from the World Cup squad. “You were playing Ambati Rayudu for the past two years with an eye on the World Cup. As a selector, if they thought Rayudu was the player, they should have selected him. You have invested on him, aur ab woh kharab ho gaya (that has gone waste),” he was quoted as saying.
The 63-year-old also urged the Board of Control for Cricket in India to have selectors with substantial international experience in order to avoid similar selection issues in the future.
“If you don’t have the vision, can’t spot talent, you cannot pick the right balance. For it, you need an experienced hand who has played a decent number of international matches. Experience is the key and it should be only international cricket because first-class player ko nahi jamega (he can’t manage). Those who have gone through the grind can pick better players,” Vengsarkar suggested.
Speaking on MS Dhoni, the former Indian batsman felt no one could force a player to retire and a decision on his future will depend on his fitness and form.
“Dhoni is a great player and his contribution is huge. (For) A player like Dhoni, you have to see form and fitness and the level of motivation. If he is motivated, in form and fit, he should continue. Great players always keep a certain standard for themselves. And if they feel it’s dropping, they will give it up. They know when to end it. They take pride in their performance and the team also. If that is dropping (form and fitness), the selectors can take a call. You can never force,” he stated.
India now travel to the Carribean islands to face West Indies for their next assignment in ODI cricket. With a heavy workload in recent months, selectors are expected to name a young team. After the failure to win the 2019 ICC World Cup, the selectors are certain to be under more pressure.