Ferocious Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer and Hyderabad pacer Mohammed Siraj have received their maiden Twenty20 call-ups for India's Twenty20 series against New Zealand starting next week, while Murali Vijay has returned to the Test squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka to be played from November 16.
Soon after BCCI acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary announced the squad for the T20Is against the Kiwis, the Board President's XI for the two-day warm-up game against Sri Lankans and the first two of the three Tests against Sri Lanka, chief selector M.S.K. Prasad stressed that Iyer and Siraj were rewarded for their prolific performances in domestic cricket, IPL and India A set-ups.
“Shreyas has been prolific in all forms of the game, be it Test, ODI, T20, IPL, name anything he is performing, so we will stick with this policy; if we pick a player we will give him an extended run and we will continue with him for some point and nurture him and see that he goes on to become successful. Siraj is also doing well and has been duly rewarded,” Prasad said.
Vijay's wrist injury had resurfaced just before the start of the Test series in Sri Lanka, which forced him to pull out of the series. With the Tamil Nadu opener having proven his fitness in the Ranji Trophy, he has returned to India's Test squad of 16 members for the first two Tests.
Selectors and team management in 'unison'
Prasad also stressed that he and his two colleagues, Devang Gandhi and Sarandeep Singh, are not influenced by the team management.
When asked about whether the convention of the selectors finalising the squad and the team management shortlisting the XI with little involvement of selectors still persists, Prasad said: “With regard to our relationship with team management, it has been cordial so far. There is lot of speculation that the team management is actually dominating, which is not right. We take their suggestions. They are very much on advisory role and that’s all.
“Coming to your question, we take their suggestion and pick the team and there is also a selector on call (while selecting the XI), so we work in unison.”
Moments earlier, Prasad wasn't as convincing when he was bombarded with queries over Ashish Nehra's selection for only the first Twenty20 against New Zealand, which appears to be a farewell game.
Prasad denied that it will be a farewell game for the veteran speedster, who has already announced his decision to retire after the first T20, and also tried his best to steer clear of team selection for the game. “Whether is going to play or not, is clearly (the decision of the) team management. There is no assurance from our side whether he is going to play or not, purely the team management will decide on that particular issue,” he said.
The selectors have surprisingly chosen an unusually big 16-member squad for the first two Tests. And Prasad struggled to justify the decision. “Well, we have covered different aspects. We have strengthened every department, from spin to medium pace,” he added.
“With so much of domestic cricket going on, some of the players can be released for domestic games, we will definitely work on that. We want to cover every aspect. From September 1, new rules have come with regard to a 16-member squad. Even a wicketkeeper can be substituted with a wicketkeeper.”
Interestingly, the squad doesn't have a reserve wicketkeeper.
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