Former Indian skipper MS Dhoni was not part of India’s limited-overs squad that will travel to West Indies for the upcoming series, which starts from August 3. In Dhoni’s absence, Rishabh Pant will take charge behind the stumps. BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad, while addressing the media after announcing the squad, said that the 37-year-old cricketer is unavailable for this series and the team management will take the opportunity to groom the young wicketkeeper-batsman.
On being asked about Dhoni’s retirement, Prasad said during the media briefing, “Retirement is purely individual (decision). A legendary cricketer like Dhoni, he knows when to retire. What is the future course of action, that is in the hands of the selection committee? I don’t think we need to discuss anything more on it. First of all he is not available. Second, we have already started grooming youngsters.”
“He’s unavailable for this series but we had certain roadmaps and plans till World Cup. Subsequently, we’ve laid down a few more plans and thought of giving as many opportunities to Pant and to see he is groomed. This is our plan right now,” Prasad added.
Despite failing to take India home during the semi-final clash against New Zealand, Prasad praised Pant for his innings of 32 against the Black Caps. “He played well. Especially in those conditions, he batted really well,” he said.
Prasad also justified the selection panel’s decision to drop Ambati Rayudu from the 15-member World Cup squad. He said that the middle-order batsman, who announced his retirement earlier this month, failed to meet certain combinations and was eventually left out.
“When Rayadu was picked for ODIs on the basis of his T20 performance, there was criticism, but we had some thoughts about him. When he failed a fitness test, we put him for a fitness program. Due to certain combinations, he wasn’t picked, it doesn’t make Selection Committee biased.”
“When we pick any player and he does well, we feel so happy for him. Similarly when somebody who goes out in this way, the selection committee also feels for it. But having said that, with regards to the decision taken, it has been completely devoid of any bias or any favouritism into why we have picked Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant or Mayank Agarwal also,” the former stumper said in his committee’s defence.
Virat Kohli, who was earlier speculated not to be a part of the team, will lead the side in all the three formats. While all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been rested for the entire tournament, Jasprit Bumrah will only be available for the Tests.
Meanwhile, Shikhar Dhawan, who has recovered completely after sustaining an injury on his thumb, returns to the international circuit.