ICC World Cup 2019: Ravi Shastri reopens number 4 debate days after squad announcement
India coach Ravi Shastri has reopened the debate about the highly contentious number 4 slot in the Indian team as he said that apart from the top 3, every other position in the Indian team’s playing XI for the World Cup remains flexible. The comment comes just days after chief selector MSK Prasad stated that Vijay Shankar is being considered for the number 4 slot, after announcing the 15-member squad.
“Total flexibility (on No.4 position) depending on conditions, opposition. I would say the top three… but after that you can be very flexible,” Ravi Shastri was quoted as saying by Sport360.
The comment comes in at a time when the selection of Vijay Shankar over Ambati Rayudu has caused a lot of debate. Rayudu himself made a cryptic comment on Twitter, which was a dig at the chief selector’s statement that Shankar was a ‘three-dimensional’ player.
The Hyderabadi, who was ignored in favour of all-rounder Vijay Shankar, Tuesday created a frenzy by tweeting that he plans to buy 3D glasses to watch the showpiece which begins May 30 in the UK.
The 3D reference came a day after chairman of selectors MSK Prasad cited Shankar’s “three-dimensional qualities” to justify his selection. The BCCI brass has taken a note but since it wasn’t a direct criticism of the selection policy, the parent body wants to let it go.
“We have taken note of what Rayudu has tweeted. (But) Let’s accept that emotions are running high at this moment. There is bound to be disappointment and there needs to be an outlet of expression as long as it’s not out of line,” a senior BCCI said on Wednesday.
India on Monday announced a 15-strong squad for the mega-event, starting May 30 in the United Kingdom, and the omissions of young keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant and veteran Ambati Rayudu triggered a debate on the choices made by the selectors. Shastri steered clear of commenting on the furore.
“I don’t get involved in selection. If we have any opinion, we let the captain known,” the coach said
“When you only have 15 to pick, there is bound to be someone or the other who misses out, which is very unfortunate. I would have preferred 16 players. We had mentioned to the ICC that in a tournament that long, 16 players makes sense. But the diktat was 15,” he added.
Shastri said those who missed the final 15 should look ahead as opportunity can knock anytime.
“They (who missed out) shouldn’t lose heart. It’s a funny game. There could be injuries. So you never know when you could be called up,” he said.
Shastri also brushed aside criticism that India seem to be too reliant on Kohli to carry them through.
“If you look at the last five years, the way the Indian team has performed, they have always been in the top two or three. To be in top two or three for five years in a row, No1 in Tests, again top three in T20 cricket… you can’t depend on one player,” he asserted.
“You have that kind of consistent record, you need a bunch of players performing all the time. Due credit to the team,” he said.
Speaking in general about the marquee tournament in the UK, Shastri gave the favourites’ tag to England.
“England have been the most consistent team over the last two years. They have multi-dimensional players. They have depth in bowling and batting. And they are playing at home. So they would start as favourites,” Shastri said.
“But there are so many teams that can beat any team on a given day. In a tournament like the World Cup, you have got to be on top of your game every game,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)
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