MSK Prasad: Squad of 26 a good idea for India tour of Australia

“The team management and seniors will have an opportunity to look at the youngsters who are knocking on the doors,” said the former chairman of selectors.

Former national selector M.S.K. Prasad.   -  FILE PHOTO/K.V.S. GIRI

A mandatory 14-day quarantine period in Adelaide before the start of India’s marquee Test series against Australia might prompt the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to send a ‘jumbo’ squad much like the West Indies and Pakistan in England, feels former chairman of selectors M. S. K. Prasad.

Pakistan is travelling with a squad of 29 (including white-ball specialists), while the West Indies has 26 on it roster in order to maintain the COVID-19 protocols in England.

“The team management and seniors will have an opportunity to look at the youngsters who are knocking on the doors,” Prasad, who till February was selection committee head, said during an interaction.

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“In this process, you can also monitor those players who can be the potential guys for different spots in future,” he added.

A squad of 26 will ensure that India can be divided into two groups and a warm-up game can be played during the quarantine period.

Prasad said it will be a healthy preparation for the main team as the first-choice batsmen will have a wide variety of bowlers at their disposal.

“Even for our main bowlers, they will have fresh batsmen to bowl at unlike the same bunch of first-team boys. For instance, Shreyas Iyer is very aggressive and at times can be unorthodox. So, he might offer variety of skills which the Australian batsman might posses.

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A good bunch of reserve fast bowlers would be ideal as first-team bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav won’t get tired in the nets in the absence of net bowlers.

The other reason to carry a big squad is that Sunil Joshi’s panel will not have a reference frame as there will be no domestic cricket before the start of the Ranji Trophy.

If there is no domestic cricket happening, then taking a large group of players will help the final squad in terms of quality preparation leading up to the Test series, Prasad said.

“Also, if the IPL (Indian Premier League) is going to happen prior to this series, then carrying a large contingent is better as we need to be ready with back ups in case somebody gets injured or is carrying the niggles from the IPL.”

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But there are a few disadvantages and Prasad cited a couple of them. “The only tough part that we will be facing because of this large contingent is managing such a large pool of players. To provide quality practice sessions to all of them will also be a challenge,” he said.

Another reason is that save for Cheteshwar Pujara and Hanuma Vihari (the two unsold Test players in the IPL), the others will have to switch from Twenty20 to Test mode.

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“If the IPL is going to happen prior to this series, then the majority of these players would have played in it and then carrying extra players might become a debatable issue.

“But let’s not forget that the IPL is only a T20 tournament, which may not be ideal preparation for Test series,” said Prasad.

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