M.S.K. Prasad: 'Saha a little ahead than Parthiv'

While Prasad wasn’t overtly concerned about the opening conundrum in the ODI team, he had no hesitation in indicating that Wriddhiman Saha’s unbeaten double hundred has sealed the deal for him ahead of Parthiv Patel for the Test wicket-keeper’s slot.

M.S.K. Prasad expressed his opinions about various issues revolving around India’s cricket team.   -  PTI

After watching the Irani Cup tie between the Ranji Trophy champion Gujarat and Rest of India from the sidelines for five days, chief selector M.S.K. Prasad expressed his opinions about various issues revolving around India’s cricket team.

While he wasn’t overtly concerned about the opening conundrum in the ODI team, he had no hesitation in indicating that Wriddhiman Saha’s unbeaten double hundred – the first by a wicket-keeper in the history of Irani Cup – has sealed the deal for him ahead of Parthiv Patel when it comes to the Test wicket-keeper’s slot.

Excerpts

The Indian team has continued its winning spree at home…

It’s not just about the series win. It wasn’t an easy win and we had fight hard. This tournament has thrown us some wonderful opportunities and some of the calls that we as selectors took have worked well. Like Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav coming in and Mahendra Singh Dhoni getting back among runs. So these are wonderful things apart from winning that we had.

Was recalling Yuvraj a gamble?

Yuvraj was definitely not a gamble. The five selectors earlier and three now had seen him do exceptionally well in the domestic circuit. Someone who can get a 260 and a 180 in Ranji Trophy shows the ability and the hunger he has.

"I had no doubts that he is working hard to make a comeback. What else can a batsman do and with his ability! All said and done, we were a bit worried about the middle-order during the New Zealand ODI series. Now I am more confident, with the way Kedar played and Yuvraj did.

"With the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey and Ambati Rayudu in the reserves shows the kind of bench strength we have. I am absolutely confident now. There is no two ways about the ability. The day he is fit, his abilities are there.

"Look how he played under pressure during the second ODI. The most important is country’s interest. Heading towards a big event, you need a middle-order which can finish off the game. The team that can give the best possible result for the country is of paramount importance."

What message does Yuvraj’s recall send to someone like Manish Pandey?

As far as Pandey and Rayudu are concerned they will have to wait for their opportunities. See Karun Nair got it and he maximized it threefold. End of the day, healthy bench-strength augurs well for Indian cricket.

Is the opening combination a concern ahead of the Champions Trophy?

As far as the opening slots are concerned, we all know that Rohit Sharma is injured and it’s just a matter of time before he comes back. I know it would have helped the rest to get some runs under the belt but I am not overtly worried because we have domestic limited over cricket and then the big event like IPL coming all the boys will have minimum 15-16 matches before they head to the Champions Trophy. These openers will get a chance to open for state and the franchisee and will definitely come back strong.

Are Yuvraj and Dhoni a part of the plans for the 2019 World Cup?

It is premature to talk about Dhoni and Yuvi being part of the 2019 WC. We can’t talk about something that is 800 or more days away from now.

Has Saha sealed his place with a sterling show in the Irani Cup after the injury break?

Wriddiman Saha was out of the team because of injury and not because he was out of form. He was man-of-the-match in the Kolkata Test against New Zealand and got a hundred in West Indies. I am happy how Parthiv (Patel) has responded to the call-up.

"He is a fighter to the core. He single-handedly brought Gujarat from nowhere to being the Ranji champion. He is among our scheme of things. There is just a minor difference between the two. When it comes to Test cricket, it is always the man who keeps better gets the nod.

"Parthiv’s glove-work has definitely improved. But Saha has got better hands and that’s where he scores little more points than Parthiv. With today’s batting, Saha showed why he is the number one ’keeper-batsman in the country. When he came out to bat yesterday, the team was struggling at 63 for four and to take the game away from Gujarat is phenomenal. So it’s a healthy competition between the two."

Was it only a fitness test for Saha that he was asked to play the Irani Cup ahead of a promising youngster like Ishan Kishan?

Yes. We had made it clear that someone who is coming back from injury had to play in a domestic game and this was the best opportunity. Ishan is of course an exciting talent and we still have a few more practice games coming up against foreign teams and Ishan is definitely a future prospect but right now Saha and Parthiv are the best No. 1 and 2 that we have. It was only to test fitness that we had Saha play here.

What was the motive behind resting Ashwin and Jadeja?

We have nothing big coming up in T20 and that’s why we decided to rest Ashwin and Jadeja.

Do you think resting some of the players during the IPL ahead of a big event like the Champions Trophy would work well? Or is it even possible?

IPL is an opportunity for all concerned players to be in best possible fitness. IPL might be domestic cricket but all the teams are as good as international side.

Playing the IPL before getting into the Champions Trophy is the right way. Of course we want them to be more together but if you look at the core of this team, it has been together for the last year and half.

When you took over as the chief selector, were you planning for the 2019 World Cup or only thinking about the one-year tenure?

I have a clear cut plan for 2019 and 2017. I actually wanted to give it to the chairman but then I myself became one and so I treasure it and have it with me.

Where does Rasool score over others for shorter formats?

Rasool has been superb in the shorter form of the game as you can see from his stats. He is actually a good all-rounder just like Jayant Yadav.

Has Kedar Jadhav exceeded your expectations from him?

Kedar Jadhav is a little dynamite. I saw him play a Ranji game at Lahli, Andhra versus Maharashtra (2014-15 QF). It was a seaming track and they were some for 40-6 and this guy scored some 80-odd and won the game for Maharashtra.

Somehow like Virat enjoys chasing, this guy enjoys finisher’s role. During one of the recent India A tour to Australia he played that role. Even in Zimbabwe he did well and Im happy for him.

Have you discussed Dhoni’s role in the coming days?

As of now, MSD is the best ’keeper-batsman in the world, not just in India. He is an invaluable asset. If the situation arose Mahi knows what to do. I don’t think so that situation will arise in coming few months or a year’s time.