MSK Prasad, Chairman of selectors of the Indian Cricket Team, has backed the concept of neutral venues in Ranji Trophy – after the new move was criticised by some players including Abhinav Mukund, who made a comeback to the national team in the second Test against Australia at Bengaluru.
“I am all for it as it challenges the players to the limit. Anyone can play and win at home but with the neutral venues, including the ones in remote areas of the country, you have to get out of your comfort zone and perform,” Prasad told PTI.
“I don’t agree that people won’t come to watch games at neutral venues. The average Indian cricket fan will travel any distance to watch his or her favourite player in action. There was a lot of crowd in attendance during the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali in Mumbai. So, I feel it is a very good move though I am sure there is room for improvement as far its implementation is concerned,” he added.
BCCI was mulling to implement the concept few years back and finally brought into practice in the 2016/17 Ranji season. The main reason for it was that local players reaped undue advantage of the tailor-made home pitches.
Prasad was happy with the solid bench strength of the Indian team as he opined there is tough competition for each and every spot in the playing XI. He cited the example of Karun Nair, who scored a triple-century in the fifth Test against England at Chennai but still lost his place to experienced Ajinkya Rahane for Bangladesh Test, who missed some part of the England series due to injury.
“A classic example of that would be Karun Nair. He got the opportunity and made it count instantly. There is competition for almost every spot in the playing XI and that can only be good for the Indian team,”, the former Indian wicket-keeper added.
Prasad also said Shahbaz Nadeem, who has more than 100 scalps in past two seasons of Ranji Trophy, can be considered in future.
“As of now, Jadeja is bowling well but yes he (Nadeem) can be considered in future,”
Nadeem is one of the top performers in domestic circuit but is yet to get a national call-up. He was hopeful for being named in the squad for Australia series but it was Kuldeep Yadav, who replaced the injured Amit Mishra. For the T20I series against England as well, Parvez Rasool was preferred over Nadeem, after the pair of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin was rested.