Mayank deserves a place in T20 World Cup squad, says former selection committee chairman MSK Prasad

MSK Prasad opens up on Mayank Yadav, Virat Kohli, Wicketkeeper spot and much more (Image: IPL, RCB, Debasis Sen)

Former BCCI selection committee chairman MSK Prasad, now a strategic consultant for Lucknow Super Giants, was in Kolkata recently. The ex-selector advocated for young pace talent Mayank Yadav in the ICC T20 World Cup squad. In an interview with Revsportz, Prasad also shared his views on Virat Kohli’s strike-rate, Pant and the wicketkeeper dilemma, Hardik Pandya’s return, Riyan Parag’s form, and more. For the record, on Sunday night, Mayank bowled just one over. He suffered a side strain. Excerpts from the interview.

Mayank Yadav has already been the talk of town. Your thoughts?

MSK Prasad: In I have to describe him in one word, he has been unbelievable. In a short time, he has not only become talk of the town but also talk of the country because IPL is such a mega event, viewed globally.. Today, everybody in the country is talking about him and rightly so.

There have been talks about fast-tracking him for the T20 World Cup. Do you agree?

MSK Prasad: Had it been some other format, probably I would have thought differently. I would have taken a call only after watching him for a couple of bilateral series. But IPL is in itself a mega platform where you can showcase your talent because every game involves pressure. Mayank is someone who has shown he can absorb pressure and bowl consistently at a good line. He has already troubled the best of the lot with his pace. If they are not being able to bring the bat down against the pace, he has been generating I think he will be handy. And looking at the Indian bowling, especially with Shami now being ruled out, the selectors must be looking for a third seamer after Bumrah and Siraj. Someone with that kind of a pace and accuracy, deserves a place in the T20 World Cup squad.

What has impressed you the most about Mayank’s bowling?

MSK Prasad: It’s not just about bowling consistently at a good pace but the accuracy. You saw the game against Punjab Kings, it was his pace coupled with line and length that troubled batters. They struggled to negotiate his pace. In the game against RCB, the ball with which he got Cameron Green bowled speaks volumes about his pace. I think he is easily the find of IPL so far.

Can he taste success in the slow and less bouncy wickets in the Caribbean?

MSK Prasad: Of course. When the pitches are double paced it will be even tougher to play him. Not many people know that he has got a fantastic change of pace also. All these attributes make him a solid case for T20 World Cup squad.

There has been talk about Virat Kohli’s strike rate in IPL matches so far. Should he be an automatic choice for T20 World Cup?

MSK Prasad: Someone who is the highest run-getter in T20 cricket, who has been the player of the tournament in the recently World Cup, someone who has batted exceptionally well during the last T20 World Cup in Australia, we are talking about his selection. Despite RCB not doing well, Virat has been their star performer. You cannot attribute the team’s failure to Virat. He is going to be one of the most important factors for India in the upcoming T20 World Cup along with Rohit Sharma.

Do you see both Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill in the T20 World Cup squad?

MSK Prasad: Yes, both Yashasvi and Shubman should find a place in that squad. I feel Virat will bat at No 3 position in the batting order.

Hardik Pandya has dealt with tough times leading Mumbai Indians in the ongoing IPL season. How big a boost will it be for India to see the return of Hardik?

MSK Prasad: He is a potential force and I really wish that when he comes out of this IPL season, he should be a much tougher person. We all know what he is going through because of the transition in leadership. It is only going to make him tougher and bring out the best in the upcoming T20 World Cup. I hope he starts performing well

Rishabh Pant has also made a successful return to competitive cricket leading Delhi Capitals. Who do you pick as the second keeper along with Pant for T20 WC?

MSK Prasad: It will be a bit premature to talk whether Pant will be an automatic choice as wicketkeeper batter. The key will be how he lasts the whole tournament especially the kind of accident he suffered. I think Pant playing in the IPL itself is the biggest news. Hats off to him. But he is still work in progress is what I feel. Post these six weeks I think we can be a better position to say whether he is fit to make it to the T20 World Cup squad.

On what basis do you pick a wicket-keeper batter for the T20 World Cup?

MSK Prasad: It all depends upon what kind of a batting role the selectors and team management are expecting from the wicketkeeper. If you are expecting a finisher then you have a Jitesh Sharma. Someone like a KL Rahul is a class act but unfortunately, he has not kept wickets recently because of his injuries. Once he starts getting runs, the rest of the world will take notice. If he (KL Rahul) is in form then I feel he should be one of the two wicketkeepers in the side. Then you also have Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan as well.

Finally, who among the uncapped Indian players has impressed you the most?

MSK Prasad: Riyan Parag has done well. He has been playing brilliantly. I think he will stake his claims sooner or later. Unlike the previous seasons, he has mellowed down a bit. He has become more mature. I have been following him closely in domestic cricket. Seven half centuries on a trot in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy is a record and after performing so well he has carried that form into the IPL. That has been the biggest difference. He used to get very frustrated, tried too many things. Now he has realised that he has to keep things simple. This is the maturity that we want to look at youngsters.

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