Why MS Dhoni may not make it to 2019 Cricket World Cup
MS Dhoni has been named in India’s limited overs squad for the series against Sri Lanka. Chief selector MSK Prasad says the former captain must keep delivering to save his berth for the 2019 Cricket World CupUpdated: Aug 17, 2017 11:53 IST
Indian skipper Virat Kohli may have sung high praise of predecessor MS Dhoni’s mentoring role, but chief selector MSK Prasad has said the latter’s place in the squad is not guaranteed for the 2019 cricket World Cup. (INDIA WIN TEST SERIES VS LANKA | SCORECARD)
Virat Kohli had pointed during the ICC Champions Trophy campaign how Dhoni, the double World Cup-winning skipper but now 36, had given crucial tips on the field as India finished runners-up in June.
MS Dhoni, despite his waning powers as a finisher, has been included in the squad for the Sri Lanka series (5 ODIs and one T20) starting on August 20. The Indian selectors though dropped Yuvraj Singh, who has struggled on the field.
MS Dhoni no surefire bet
Emphasising on fitness as a key criterion to make it to the 2019 cricket World Cup squad, MSK Prasad revealed the selectors’ thinking when asked whether MS Dhoni was an automatic choice in the build-up to the major tournament.
“Discussions happen about everybody. It’s not just MS. When we pick, when we talk about combinations, we talk about everybody. You will also see that in the time to come,” Prasad said during India’s win over Sri Lanka in the Pallekele Test.
He spoke about tennis great Andre Agassi’s success after turning 30, but was clear the selectors won’t hesitate to drop him if his performances dipped.
“I was reading Agassi’s book, Open; his life actually started after 30 years. Till then he won two or three (grand slams). He lived with media pressure, but he played till 36 and won so many Grand Slams. So, you never know.
“We don’t say it is an automatic thing… but we will see. We are all stakeholders. We all want the Indian team to do well. If he is delivering, why not? If he is not, we’ll have to look at alternatives.”
Fitness not great
Prasad said the cricket Board (BCCI) will introduce fitness for selection to the Indian squad after finding the fielding levels not up to the mark during the ICC Champions Trophy.
“If I put my hand on my heart and say after the Champions Trophy, we felt we need to be a fitter and stronger side. We felt we need to raise our fitness levels and fielding standards.
“I like to officially tell you that you will also get an official note from the BCCI… we are trying to fix some fitness parameters, and whoever it is has to strictly adhere to those parameters.
“Skill-wise we are No 1 in the world, (but) when it comes to fitness, we need to raise our standards.
“We have two to three phases in those parameters leading up to the 2019 cricket World Cup. If someone fails to match them, he will not be considered, irrespective of who he is.”
Yuvraj rested, not dropped
However, the former India wicketkeeper maintained Yuvraj Singh was rested and not dropped.
“We have started a policy where we have identified some set of players who will be considered for the next 4-5 months, and we will rotate them. After that we will get a picture that these are the players who will go on to play the 2019 World Cup.
“ In that process, we have started rotating the players and resting some of the main players. We will see how some of these youngsters do. We will then take a call by the end of the year.”
Prasad also said Test openers KL Rahul, back in the limited-overs squad after injury, will bat at No 4 as the Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are set as openers.
First Published: Aug 14, 2017 17:41 IST