Vision 2020: Squads for WI tour announced, selectors resisting wholesome changes in the aftermath of WC semi-final loss


    Virat leading the team to the West Indies sends the right message. “He is the leader and he should lead the recovery,” said Prasad.

    Chief selector MSK Prasad announces the Indian squads for the West Indies tour on Sunday.
    World Cup 2019 is past. World T20 in 2020 is the future. That was the message coming out of the selection committee meeting in Mumbai. Seeing the teams chosen for the West Indies tour, it is clear that the selection committee, led by MSK Prasad, did not see any reason to panic in the aftermath of the loss to New Zealand in the World Cup semi-final.

    It was a good campaign till that one fateful day and the selectors have taken note of that. “Virat enjoys full confidence of the committee and the BCCI and there is no reason to change things based on one loss. Split captaincy was never a consideration. It was nothing more than a rumour that was doing the rounds in the media,” Prasad told ET Sport after the selection meeting.

    Prasad was also forthcoming on the World Cup selection issue and if things could have been done differently. “In hindsight, all things can be said. When Shikhar (Dhawan) got injured we wanted a left hander in the mix and hence we went with Rishabh (Pant) at No. 4 with (KL) Rahul pushed up the order. Then when Vijay Shankar got injured and KL Rahul was also doubtful, we picked Mayank.

    This selection was partly influenced by KL Rahul’s injury in the England game when he limped off the field.” Having picked Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey for the much debated middle-order slot, Prasad and his team has clearly outlined the vision for the next 12 months. India, so far at least, played T20 cricket with a 50-over mindset for all things were geared with an eye on the 50-over World Cup. Now things need to change radically. T20 will assume paramount importance and the ODIs need to be played with a T20 mindset, much like England have done in the last few years.

    The other highlight from the meeting was MS Dhoni’s future. There are two parts to the Dhoni puzzle at this point. First is the retirement question that has captured the imagination for a while now. And the second is if Dhoni will continue to be in the selectors’ scheme of things going forward. While the first issue is entirely Dhoni’s decision, the second call rests entirely with the selectors and the captain. While with Dhoni one can ‘never say never’, suffice to say a call on his future also depends on how Rishabh Pant performs in the Caribbean and against South Africa at home. “We have given Rishabh the opportunity knowing he has the potential. Let’s see how he does. Based on that we will have an answer”, said Prasad.

    Reading between the lines, the position is clear. If Pant does well, Dhoni may well have played his last game for India. But if Pant isn’t able to make the most of the opportunities given to him and Dhoni has a good IPL in 2020, doors can still open up for him for one final time.

    Pecked at the top of the ICC Test rankings for the third year in a row, it is important to acknowledge that the team under Kohli has done well. While a series win against Australia in Australia remains the highlight, stretching South Africa in South Africa was another reasonable performance. The 1-4 loss to England in England notwithstanding, India under Kohli now has a team that can master any condition in any part of the world. So much so, they go into the world Test championship as one of the favourites.

    With the IPL throwing up T20 talent every year, India will soon have a very good T20 team, one that is well capable of mounting a serious challenge in Australia in October 2020. Kohli, hurting in the aftermath of the semi-final loss, will have a shot at redemption at the World T20. A senior BCCI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, gave an interesting insight into Kohli’s work ethics. “I asked Patrick Farhart, who has just moved on from the India job (physiotherapist), how many cheat days Virat had in the last four years and the answer was none. How do you question such commitment?” he asked.

    India may have lost a game of cricket against New Zealand but the vision for the game has certainly not lost out. The fitness levels of the team is at its best ever and India, for the first time perhaps, are one of the best fielding teams in the world.

    Virat leading the team to the West Indies sends the right message. “He is the leader and he should lead the recovery,” said Prasad. His committee has done its part. Now it is over to Kohli and Co again.


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