‘I think there are no better finishers than him’: MSK Prasad on Rinku Singh’s omission from T20 World Cup squad

Rinku Singh and MSK Prasad
Rinku Singh and MSK Prasad (PC: BCCI)

Former BCCI selection committee chairman MSK Prasad has lambasted the current selectors for not including Rinku Singh in the 15-member Indian squad for upcoming ICC T20 World Cup. Despite doing exceptionally well for the country in T20Is, Rinku has been kept in the travelling reserves along with Shubman Gill, Avesh Khan and Khaleel Ahmed.

The former boss of the selection committee did back the decision of the Ajit Agarkar led selection panel for reposing faith in Yuzvendra Chahal. In an exclusive interaction with Revsportz, MSK Prasad shared his thoughts on Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the side, Shivam Dube’s role, whether Sanju Samson should feature in playing XI and more. Excerpts:

Rev: What is your first thought after looking at the Indian team?

MSK Prasad: I think it is a good side. It has got a good blend of fast bowlers and spinners and at the same time it has got a few options in the opening slot

Rev: Do you reckon Rinku Singh should have deserved a place in the 15-member squad?

MSK Prasad: I feel all three Rinku, KL Rahul and Shubman Gill were very close to getting selected. Having said that, the selectors did a good job. They were very clear that in the Caribbean and the USA the wickets will assist the spinners during the latter part of the summer. I think that is the only reason in going for an extra spinner, Axar. That is the reason Rinku had to miss out. See if you look at the players who fit in the role as finishers, I think there is no one better than Rinku now in India. I also feel it is a little unfortunate and hard to digest the fact Rinku has been ignored.

Rev: The likes of Shubman Gill and KL Rahul also do not find a place in the squad. Your thoughts.

MSK Prasad: I might sound biased but KL (Rahul) is one guy who would have fit in any role. Probably, the selectors went in with Sanju’s recent form in IPL. Sanju has done well in the recent past, too. Personally, I would have felt KL, too, could have done that job. He has done very well both with the bat and behind the wickets during the 50 overs World Cup and in the IPL matches so far. He took some outstanding catches and started leading the side very well. The easiest thing is to criticise the selectors. I have gone through that phase for three-four years. You can only accommodate 15 players. They also had a particular thought process. Maybe, an extra spinner was not needed. I think the composition was spot on except for that extra spinner. I felt KL deserved a place.

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Rishabh Pant in an IPL game against Chennai Super Kings
Rishabh Pant in an IPL game against Chennai Super Kings (Credit: @rishabhpant)

Rev: As expected, Rishabh Pant makes a comeback. Would you also pick Samson in playing XI?

MSK Prasad: It all depends on what kind of batting roles you have in mind for both of them. Depending on that thought process, they will pick the playing XI.

Rev: There has been a lot of debate about Hardik Pandya’s inclusion in the side. Your thoughts?

MSK Prasad: I don’t think there is a second thought on Hardik’s inclusion and also being made the vice-captain of the side. He was given the mantle of captaincy when Rohit was not there. So that clearly indicated that he was next in line for leadership. The selectors made the right decision by picking him. Tell me who in the country now is a better fast bowling all-rounder than Hardik? Yes, he has been struggling with his form in recent times. But let us be fair as well, there is so much that has happened. Change of leadership in Mumbai, unfortunately, has affected his form as well. But once he puts on the Indian jersey, he can leave his IPL form behind. And once again I repeat that Hardik Pandya is the best fast bowling all-rounder in the country now no matter what the pundits say.

Rev: Shivam Dube also makes it to the fifteen-member squad. Do you see him getting in the playing XI considering he hasn’t bowled in the IPL?

MSK Prasad: I don’t think Shivam Dube has been picked as an all-rounder. You already have three all-rounders in the side, Hardik, Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja. Had he (Dube) been an all-rounder he should have bowled for CSK. I have serious doubts. Maybe, on the slower wickets in the West Indies he can be handy. He is more of a batter who can bowl say may be 2-3 overs.

Rev: Yuzvendra Chahal makes it to the squad after 2023, having performed well in the ongoing IPL?

MSK Prasad: What shocks me is that how can you not pick Chahal when the T20 World Cup was happening in Dubai. How can you not pick him during the T20 World Cup in Australia as you needed a wrist spinner in Australian conditions. It was really a shocking decision to see him missing out on the last two T20 World Cups. But this guy has never let himself down and kept on performing. That is what the players must do. Rather than complaining about their non-selection you must go back and keep performing. This man (Yuzi) thoroughly deserves a place in the side and he will have to play a key role if India is going to win the World Cup. Hats off to the selectors for picking him. He has been bowling well. It is a wonderful inclusion along with Kuldeep Yadav. Conditions in the Caribbean and in the USA will help for bowlers of their class. 

Yuzvendra Chahal was the pick of RR bowlers against MI
Yuzvendra Chahal was the pick of RR bowlers against MI (Source: X.com)

Rev: Who would be your top six batters in the side?

MSK Prasad: For me, Rohit (Sharma) and Yashasvi (Jaiswal) should open the batting for India. The reason I see the youngster opening the batting is left hand and right-hand combination. Virat will go in at No 3 and Surya at No 4 followed by Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja along with Shivam Dube.

All these years what we missed is a left hander in the lower middle order. I think Dube should feature in the playing XI. When he plays in the middle order, he can take on the spinners, a role he has been successful with in for Chennai Super Kings. If he fails, Samson can be tried.

Rev: Going by the form guide in IPL, is it an area of concern to have quite a few players not in good form in recent times?

MSK Prasad: With regard to players like Hardik and Surya I don’t think form is an area of concern because I feel they always had class. They can always rise to the occasion, especially on a stage like the World Cup. Both played couple of good knocks in the ongoing IPL. I think Hardik will come out of it. I am sure both will give their best. Once they are in the Indian team, their roles will change as well. In Mumbai Indians, Hardik is struggling because of a role clarity. At Gujarat Titans, he was very comfortable with the role he was assigned but suddenly in Mumbai Indians where they have so many super-stars, he is struggling to find a perfect batting order for himself. There seems to be no clarity in his role. He will not have to worry about that in the Indian team.

Rev: Picking only three fast bowlers in the squad, is itthe right move. Would you play Arshdeep ahead of Siraj?

MSK Prasad: It is the right decision to take three pacers along with Hardik. Siraj has been the best bowler in white ball cricket. I think all three of them will raise their game. In RCB, he is the main strike bowler but when you are playing for India, Bumrah will be there to take the lead role.

Rev: Finally, what will be your playing XI for the first match against Ireland on May 5?

MSK Prasad: Considering the wickets will be on a slower side in the USA and the Caribbean, my playing XI will be Rohit and Yashasvi opening followed by Virat Kohli, Shivam Dube, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj.

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