Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad lauded MS Dhoni’s contribution as wicketkeeper, but ducked a question on the former India skipper’s batting form.
“How many of us believe this fact that MSD is still the best wicketkeeper in the world? We still believe he is still the best wicketkeeper. We are only focusing on his batting form.
“He is an invaluable asset to this team when it comes to crunch situations. (On) his inputs, he has got one of the best brains and he is the best person to guide Virat.
READ | Indian cricket team for ICC Champions Trophy: Manish Pandey in; Rohit Sharma, Shami return
“Not many people realise that in the last 10 to 15 years that he has been playing for the country, he has never had a bad day with the wicketkeeping gloves. We (the country) always treat him more like a batsman, but the phenomenal stuff that he does behind the wickets… not many people appreciate it.
“According to me, he is still the best wicketkeeper in the world,” said Prasad in response to a question whether Dhoni’s batting form was part of the selection committee’s discussion.
Dhoni has scored 235 runs in 12 innings which include a match-winning knock of 61 not out for Rising Pune Supergiant in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
READ | BCCI admits blunder after clearing Indian cricket team for ICC Champions Trophy
Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, Dhoni has been promoted to No 5 in the batting order. When asked regarding Dhoni’s batting position for the Champions Trophy, Prasad said: “That is up to the combination and let the team management decide that.”
“We considered Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik and Shardul Thakur. They are in our standby list for the Champions Trophy. We discussed Kuldeep. He narrowly missed out, but has a big role to play in future. Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya are youngsters we’ve been grooming. We’re extremely pleased with Rishabh and will groom him too,” added Prasad.
Several youngsters who have performed brilliantly in the IPL were not considered for the 15-member Champions Trophy squad announced in New Delhi on Monday. Prasad, however, assured that the Indian youngsters are on their radar.
“IPL is a very, very glamorous tournament. It is our premier domestic tournament and best tournament in the world. There are no two ways about it. When we consider for a 50-over tournament, we have to see other aspects as well.
READ | BCCI gives up opposition, India to play in Champions Trophy 2017
“We have to see all-round capabilities as well. Yes, we are really happy that some of the boys like (Rahul) Tripathi, Basil Thampi and the way they are shaping up (sic). It is a wonderful platform and from here we will keep them under our radar and we will groom them,” added Prasad.
When enquired whether the selectors were concerned about R Ashwin’s limited overs form where he has often struggled to finish his quota of overs, Prasad said, “It is not that Ashwin is out of form (and) because of the form of Ashwin we considered Kuldeep. It is because of the qualities of Kuldeep that we have considered him (in the past). This is the way we were actually preparing him (Ashwin) for the Champions Trophy and some of those senior cricketers.”
Prasad asserted that the selectors have the final say in picking the squad when asked whether Kohli insisted on having an extra batsman or spinner.
“It is a combination of all of them and not just what one person thinks. There are three selectors also working on it. We definitely take the suggestions, but it is the selectors who take the final call,” he said.