Published: October 2, 2018 12:40:12 pm
When the Indian team builds the Test series against the West Indies with their eyes focused on the trip to Australia, head selector MSK Prasad speaks with The Indian Express about the failures of India in England and South Africa, the reasons to Karun Nair away to let go, and taking the "difficult decision" to drop Shikhar Dhawan. Fragments: India probably had the strongest team in a long time for the tour through England. Where do you think, if the main selector, things went wrong? What are your plans to do well abroad?
I think we have a very good test team that can win abroad. Although we are 2-1 lost from South Africa and England 4-1, these results are not the true reflection of the way we have fought both parties against both parties. I am convinced that today we have one of the best bowling attacks in the world. The way our fast bowlers had walked in SA and England was very cordial. Even our spinners have done a good job. Our fielding and catching was fantastic in the English series.
The area where we need to learn well is batting as a unit. Although our batsmen achieved individual successes, we have to do better together. The losses in Cape Town, Edgbaston and Southampton were all because we did not make a collective effort in the batting department while pursuing reasonable goals. Of course we also have to find solutions to get rid of tail-enders, which costs us in the outcome of games.
How do you explain the exclusion of Karun Nair for the West Indies series? The team management does not seem to have the confidence in him.
To communicate unpleasant news is a big challenge in itself. However, it is the responsibility of the selection committee and we have never waived it. Even in the case of Karun, my colleague Devang Gandhi spoke to him in England to preserve his spirit. I personally spoke with Karun shortly after the Test team for the West Indies series was announced.
I also explained the reason behind his non-admission. I told him that we can not have an extensive team at home and have him wait for his chance to play in the XI, and that in a series with two tests. On the contrary, it makes sense to play in domestic matches and keep score points.
Is the decision to drop Dhawan from the Test team a sign of the selection committee that concentrates more on heavy foreign trips?
It is really surprising that a batsman who can rule in white-ball cricket, finds it difficult to replicate the same in red-ball cricket. He is a feast for the eyes in every format of the game. Unfortunately, we had to make this difficult decision after offering him significant opportunities. At the same time, we can say that if Shikhar is willing to use the difficult meters necessary for the longer format, the gates certainly are open to him.
How do you see the progress of Rishabh Pant in Tests, both in terms of batting and keeping?
We all know what Rishabh is capable of as a batsman. He can make a big impact on no. 6 or 7 for our test team. When it comes to wicketkeeping, he still has a long way to go. We follow his progress on that aspect. We had asked the BCCI to call on Rishabh to refine his wicketkeeping skills at the NCA. He now works under the watchful eye of specialized coaches such as Kiran More and Abhay Sharma. We all want him to quickly refine his skills and get well with his Wicketkeeping. If he can do that, this will be a huge advantage for our test team, especially when playing abroad.
How refreshing is it to see the rise of Jasprit Bumrah and Ishant Sharma, and how important is it to keep an eye on their workload?
It is refreshing to see the rise of Bumrah as a potential force in all the layouts of the game. When we had chosen him in the test team, not many believed he could deliver this with red ball cricket. But he has not only lived up to it, but exceeded everyone's expectations. At the same time, we must protect him because he is a precious commodity with a peculiar action, which can lead to injuries if his workload is not properly managed. It's great to see that Ishant is consistently taking wickets lately. We saw another Ishant, who tickled completely different lengths and angles in the English series. Probably his stint in the county really helped him to throw well under those circumstances. I am happy with the way (Mohammed) that Shami also played in the series.
What is the role of India A coach in the selection of the national team? How important was the feedback from Rahul Dravid when you chose Prithvi Shaw and Hanuma Vihari?
There is a process that young people who play well at the level of India A are graduated from the senior team. These young are well cared for under Rahul Dravid. He has achieved many successes during India A tours for which he was in charge. Of course we take his opinion about players in the India A team when there is a need for the senior team. Dravid always offers valuable advice when requested. Even before the tour in England, Ravi Shastri, Dravid and I had a conference call, discussing the various aspects of the game that we would encounter there.
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