‘Karun, Abhinav not ruled out of SL tour’

Chairman of selectors M. S. K. Prasad has said the two were still consideration for the forthcoming Test series in Sri Lanka despite being picked for the India A side.

M. S. K. Prasad... “Every player has a right to play as long as he is fit, has the hunger, and is performing.”   -  K. Pichumani

Despite their inclusion in the South Africa-bound India ‘A’ squad, National selection panel chief M.S.K. Prasad believed Karun Nair and Abhinav Mukund still had a chance of being picked in the team for the forthcoming Test series in Sri Lanka. The dates of the two tours clash with the India-Sri Lanka Test series getting underway on July 26.

Speaking to Sportstar on Friday, Prasad said, “Karun and Abhinav were chosen in the India ‘A’ sides keeping in mind the needs of that team.”

He added, “But they are by no means ruled out of the Indian team’s tour of Sri Lanka. We will be picking the squad only on July 11 and in case any of them is picked, he will be replaced in the India ‘A’ team. It’s simple.”

Asked about the progress of openers Murali Vijay and K. L. Rahul, recovering from wrist and shoulder surgeries, Prasad said, “We will await the report of Indian team physio Patrick Farhart on them. We will also coordinate with Andrew Liepus at the National Cricket Academy.”

Prasad said the two openers will have to prove their fitness in the local matches. “I believe the TNCA league is starting soon and Vijay will get an opportunity. There are games for Rahul too.”

Vijay will be travelling to the NCA in Bengaluru on Monday to get his recovery assessed and receive the go-ahead to start playing again. On whether Vijay and Rahul will get an additional 10 days beyond July 11 – when the team will be selected – to become fully fit, Prasad said, “We will take a call during the selection meeting.”

Prasad also shared his thoughts on the vexing question of M.S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh – both are not getting any younger - continuing in the ODI team in light of the 2019 World Cup. The selection panel chief said, “Every player has a right to play as long as he is fit, has the hunger, and is performing. But it is up to the selectors to decide what is good for the team in the long run.”

‘India did very well’

Though India was pounded by Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final, Prasad saw the positives. He said, “Rahul was injured and missed out, Rohit Sharma was playing his first international match after a long time, Ashwin was coming back after missing the IPL, Kohli did not figure in some of the IPL because of fitness issues, Dhawan was battling form concerns and Shami too was coming back from injury. Under the circumstances, India did very well reaching the final,” he emphasised.

Prasad noted, “Small things made a big difference in the final, the no-ball and the missed run-out chances. The players were devastated and in a state of shock after the final.”

A few performances pleased the selector. “Look at the way Hardik Panya blasted the bowling in the final. Rohit batted well, and Shikhar Dhawan was outstanding. There is healthy competition for the opening slots.”

While he was appreciative of the Indian pace attack, Prasad singled out left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav for special mention. “He bowled like a champion in the final Test against Australia. He can make a difference.”

On the Kumble-Kohli clash that led to the coach quitting his job, Prasad said, “I have an opinion but had I not been a selector, I would have spoken on the issue.”

The former India wicketkeeper-batsman said Dinesh Karthik was picked in the Champions Trophy side as a “specialist batsman.”

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