M. S. K. Prasad: We’re moving on from M. S. Dhoni, backing Rishabh Pant

The selection committee is keen to provide opportunities to youngsters “and see that they establish themselves in the side,” says Prasad.

Uncertain future: M. S. Dhoni hasn’t played for India after the 2019 World Cup.   -  AP

As M. S. K. Prasad addressed the media on Thursday, in what could be his last assignment as the chairman of the national selection committee, he was asked about the future of M. S. Dhoni who has not been part of the national side since India’s World Cup semifinal exit.

The chief selector made it clear that the committee had decided to look beyond the 38-year-old. “I made it very clear, post World Cup, that we are moving on. We are giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side,” Prasad said.

Backing Pant

Heaping praises on young guns Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson, who have been quite consistent, the chief selector said, “After the World Cup, we have started backing Rishabh Pant. So, we will still back him and see that he progresses well.”

Pant’s performance has drawn flak from former cricketers and even the team management decided to drop him for the Test series against South Africa. “Of course, he might not have the best of the matches, the way we expect of him, but we can still only make a player by backing him. So, we are confident that he will come out successful and that’s been the thought process post World Cup and we focussing on Rishabh Pant.” Prasad said.

In the T20Is against Bangladesh, even Sanju Samson, who has has a successful outing in domestic cricket, has been drafted into the Indian team. “With Rishabh Pant doing so well and Sanju Samson coming into the side, I am sure, you must be understanding our thought process,” Prasad said.

‘Personal call’

Although Prasad specified that the national selectors had spoken to Dhoni, he did not elaborate what the point of discussion was. “He definitely endorses our view of backing the youngsters,” Prasad said. However, he was not willing to jump the gun on Dhoni’s retirement, making it clear that it is up to the individual to decide. “That is purely his personal call,” Prasad said.

There have been speculations that Dhoni could make himself available for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament in a bid to be eligible for the T20Is against the West Indies. But Prasad was in no mood to endorse such a thought. “We’ve already laid the roadmap for future, I’m sure you can see in the way we are selecting the teams,” he said, adding: “Going into domestic cricket, getting his touch back or thoughts about retirement, everything is purely his personal [decision].”

A decision on retirement will be left to M. S. Dhoni, clarified Prasad. File Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

After taking charge as the BCCI president on Wednesday, Sourav Ganguly had stated he would talk to Dhoni and discuss the road ahead. “Even when I was left out and when the entire world said he will never make it, I believed in myself and came back and played for four years. Champions don't finish quickly,” Ganguly, who had made a remarkable comeback to the Indian team in 2006 after being out for a year, had said.

He had made it clear that in his regime, every player will be respected.

But now, with the selectors deciding to move beyond Dhoni, uncertainty over his future remains.

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