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MSK Prasad

Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)
Virat Kohli in action during the third day of the WTC final against New Zealand. (File)

Virat Kohli’s Sudden Decision To Relinquish Test Captaincy Shocked Kiran More, MSK Prasad, Chandrakant Pandit And Madan Lal

Virat Kohli stepping down as Test captain through his tweet came as a shock to the cricketing fraternity and follows the sequence of him announcing his resignation as T20 captain late last year.

The ODI reins also were snatched from him when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced Rohit Sharma as the ODI captain for the tour of South Africa, which has eventually gone to KL Rahul as the holder of three double centuries in the 50-over format has not recovered in time for the ODIs in the Rainbow Nation starting on January 19.

Virat Kohli, Image Source : AP IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Image Source: AP IMAGE

Virat Kohli’s Sudden Decision To Relinquish Test Captaincy Shocked Kiran More And MSK Prasad

While the cricketing fraternity was still searching for answers as to what would have prompted Virat Kohli to take this extreme decision, a majority of the people did not see this coming while only a few may claim to have expected this following the 1-2 Test series loss in South Africa.

Virat Kohli – the most successful Indian Test captain with 40 wins from 2014 Adelaide till the day before yesterday in Cape Town and having captained the country in most Tests, 68 – did not want to be sacked as the Test skipper by the BCCI.

Perhaps he did not want to get into a situation in which the great England all-rounder Ian Botham found himself in the 1981 Ashes Tests in his country. Ian Botham stepped down from Test captaincy after the second Test at Lord’s as form abandoned him and wins weren’t coming.

File image of Kiran More | AFP
File image of Kiran More | AFP

It was a series in which Ian Botham was appointed Test captain match after match and not for the entire series, and was on trial. It was the series in which, after he relinquished the captaincy, England went on to win the Ashes through his heroics that included the famous Headingley Test, which is popularly known as the Ian Botham Test.

Former chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad, was “shocked” at Virat Kohli stepping down from captaincy.

“I am still not able to digest the fact that he has stepped down from Test captaincy. Am still searching for the reasons for him stepping down as Test captain. I felt that he still has a lot to offer as a captain and as a player in Tests,” Prasad said from Hyderabad.

Another former chairman of selectors and former India wicketkeeper, Kiran More, was disappointed at Virat Kohli’s sudden decision to step down from Test captaincy.

“The way he has left is a bit sad,” More said.

“The way people have treated him, and I am not talking of the BCCI, and criticized him was not fair. He has played a lot of cricket, he has done well for India. Let’s not forget he is a World Cup winner (2011). He has got 70 international hundreds and is a special player. Performance-wise, we cannot touch him. I am not worried about him stepping down from T20 or ODI captaincy. The way people were criticising him was not good.”

Kiran More felt that the onus now was on the chief coach, Rahul Dravid, and the selectors to regroup the Indian Test team under a new captain.

“This always happens. People have to come together and regroup. That’s the job of Rahul Dravid and the selectors. They are matured cricketers. It is not going to be easy and will take time for the Indian team to settle down. You play Test cricket with your heart. He’s got to perform. Kohli’s 79 and 29 in Cape Town were like 150 on difficult pitch.”

On what lies ahead for Virat Kohli the batsman, Kiran More said: “It is not easy to leave captaincy. He was the captain in all three formats. He must have decided to focus on his batting and win matches for the country. He has always played freely to score 70 international hundreds. The time comes in every captain’s life to move on. Every captain feels it and perhaps he has felt it now.”

The disappointment of not being able to win a Test series in South Africa in two attempts (2017-18 and 2021-22) as captain and the personal form of not being able to score a Test hundred may have cluttered his mind for long and made him take this decision.

But, one positive thing for India is Virat Kohli will now be a player without the weight of expectations of leading India to this victory and that. Virat Kohli can only raise his already-high standards and play as a senior pro and guide the youngsters and the new Test captain with his experience and expertise.

Chandrakant Pandit Was Surprised By Virat Kohli’s Decision

Kiran More’s India team-mate and fellow wicketkeeper, now a successful coach in the domestic circuit, Chandrakant Pandit, was left a little surprised with Kohli’s decision.

“It is a little surprising. I don’t know the reasons,” said Pandit, pondering at his room in Indore, where is planning for Madhya Pradesh as the State team’s head coach.

“He has always been the man behind the success of the Indian team. I have always loved to watch him for his aggression as a player and as a captain. I always like somebody motivating his players, leading from the front and Kohli always had that attitude. I am surprised that he has taken this decision so quickly,” Pandit said.

Chandrakant Pandit hoped that Virat Kohli has not relinquished Test captaincy for the simple reason that India lost the Test series in South Africa.

He said: “It should not be the reason as winning and losing are a part of the game. He is also a role model on the ground to motivate the team. He could have gone for another one or two years (as captain). He has got tremendous fitness. Performances go up and down and that does not mean one gives up captaincy, especially of his calibre.”

While Pandit did agree that the burdens of captaincy off his shoulders would make a difference to Kohli, he said: “He is not one to take pressure. He has always given pressure to others when he is batting or leading the side. That always helps the youngsters in the team. He is not one of those who performs well only without the captaincy pressures. In fact, he likes the challenges of captaincy.”

Madan Lal. Image-Twitter
Madan Lal. Image-Twitter

“I hope whoever is the new captain, he continues with the same aggression as Kohli. The Indian team needs this kind of aggression. The Indian team has tremendous talent. Just that it needs that fire, which we have always seen in Kohli. We talk about batsmen carrying on with the momentum. This Indian team needs to carry on with the momentum from Kohli’s captaincy.”

Former India all-rounder and a selector, Madan Lal, agreed with Chandrakant Pandit’s view that Virat Kohli’s decision should not have been influenced by the lack of success in the Test series in South Africa, and that he wanted to see him for another year or two as Test captain.

Lal said: “What next? He’ll keep on playing for the country and keep on performing. The game is all about performance, nothing else. You have to keep on performing and keep on playing. At the end of the day, it is a performance that counts.

“Kohli has done a very good job as a captain. I wanted to see him as Test captain for one or two years. I like his aggressive nature. People say that he has not got a century for more than two years. But, he has got runs. His contribution is immense. I like his captaincy for his aggressiveness, whatever decision he has taken, he is very positive.”

Madan Lal, a medium-pacer in his days and a crucial member of the 1983 World Cup-winning Indian team, acknowledged Virat Kohli’s liking to pack his team with fast bowlers.

“Another thing I liked about Kohli’s captaincy was that he recognised the importance of pace bowlers. When he took over, he knew that he wanted to have four to five fast bowers who could win Test matches for the country.”

Madan Lal stressed that it was not the bowlers who let the team down in South Africa but the batsmen.

“In South Africa, the Indian batting failed, not the bowling department. Kohli has always encouraged fast bowlers and won many games with them. When you have a world-class fast bowler and a world-class spinner, you always win a few more games than anybody else,” the 70-year-old Lal said.

The talk of Virat Kohli not being able to win an ICC Trophy may have annoyed Virat Kohli, felt Madan Lal.

“Perhaps, he was annoyed by the sacking as 50-over captain. He was clear he’d give up 20-over captaincy but not 50-over and Test captaincy. Maybe there was a lack of communication with the selectors, I don’t know. I don’t agree that it has got to do with him not being able to lead India to an ICC trophy win,” Lal said.

Lal said that giving up captaincy might relax Kohli a little, but “the pressure is always going to be there. You are free of pressure only when you score runs. He has set high standards for himself and has to maintain them. That is the pressure he is going to have”.

Virat Kohli on Saturday stunned the cricking world with his sudden decision of relinquishing captaincy in Tests. His decision comes after Team India lost the 3-match Test series to South Africa 2-1. Virat Kohli led in 68 Test matches out of which the team registered victory in 40 games. 17 of them ended in a draw and lost 11 face-offs. Virat Kohli won 40 matches, which is 13 more than next-best MS Dhoni.

India's Ishant Sharma prepares to ball during the third day of the second Test cricket match of a two-match series between India and Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens cricket stadium in Kolkata on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE

India Missed A Tall Fast Bowler Like Ishant Sharma In The Johannesburg Test- MSK Prasad

Former India wicketkeeper MSK Prasad believes that India missed a tall fast bowler like Ishant Sharma who could have extracted more out of that surface like South African pacers. Notable that Siraj had a hamstring injury during the first innings and he struggled through the second Test match. So he is likely to miss out on the second test match as there will be a toss-up between Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav for 3rd pacer slot.

Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma[Image-Twitter]

Ishant picked just 14 wickets in 8 tests last year.

Prasad said that India should go with Ishant considering his height as he believes that the South Africa attack gained more advantage in the second Tests as all of their pacers extracted the awkward bounce from the good length.

“We missed a tall fast bowler in Johannesburg and the only one we have is Ishant. On these kind of tracks, he is my choice ahead of Umesh. Had it been an Indian track which is rugged and feels like dustbowl, Umesh would be my ‘go to’ man,” MSK Prasad told PTI.

Also, former India wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta opined the same however he has some doubts over Ishant’s form. But he backed his consistency and experience in these conditions as it’s Ishant’s 4th tour to the rainbow nation.

“I won’t be able to say whether Kohli has the same faith in Ishant’s abilities which he had till 2019. But even then in this game, Ishant, if played, could come in handy compared to Umesh. Firstly, with that height, he would hit tougher lengths, and secondly because of his ability to keep the batters quiet for long periods of time which unfortunately didn’t happen on a bowler-friendly track at the Wanderers,” Dasgupta told PTI.

Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah (Photo-Getty)

Ishant Sharma picked only 14 wickets in 8 Test matches with an average of 32.71 in the year 2021. His record in South Africa is also below par as he picked only 20 wickets in 7 test matches with an average of 40.

Ishant can bowl a good eight to 10 over spell and if we see the trend, a first innings score of 275 is the new 350 in Test matches in these conditions. Also, Ishant bowls that fourth stump line where the ball can straighten or cut back enough to make the batters play. But yes, team management will check out their practice form too,” he added.

Also read Rahul Dravid Explains Reason Behind Hanuma Vihari And Shreyas Iyer Wait To Bag Regular Test Spots

msk prasad

I don’t Think Ishant Sharma Will Be Considered Ahead Of Mohammed Siraj On Current Form – MSK Prasad

Former BCCI selector MSK Prasad feels that the veteran pacer Ishant Sharma might not feature in the Centurion Test. As the build-up for the first Test between India and South Africa has started, the cricket pundits started sharing their views on team combinations. MSK Prasad opined his views on India’s possible playing XI for the first Test.

The former Indian Wicketkeeper believes that India will likely go with 4 pacers but Ishant Sharma might not feature in it. Prasad feels that Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami would be the automatic choices for India and Shardul Thakur is likely to get the seam-bowling all-rounder’s slot.

MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ishant picked only 14 wickets in 2021

“I think Shardul Thakur is the best choice if they go in with five bowlers as he also gives the option of a steady No.7 batter and we also have Ravichandran Ashwin,” Prasad told PTI

So all the discussions would be for the third seamer’s slot. Prasad feels that Siraj should get the nod ahead of Ishant or Umesh.

“Four bowlers in this line-up are now confirmed if all fit – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ashwin, and Mohammed Siraj. I don’t think Ishant will be considered ahead of Siraj on current form,” he stated.

Notable that the year 2021 hasn’t been great for Ishant Sharma. The veteran pacer played 8 tests in 2021 and picked only 14 wickets with an average of  32.71. And make things worse his record in the rainbow nation hasn’t been great either as he picked only 20 wickets in 7 Tests in the previous three tours of South Africa.

Indian players Ishant Sharma, left, Ravichandran Ashwin, center, and Mohammed Shami
Indian players Ishant Sharma, left, Ravichandran Ashwin, centre, and Mohammed Shami

On the other side, Mohammad Siraj has been at the peak of his form of late as the Hyderabad pacer picked 33 wickets in 10 Test matches. 27-year old pacer made his Test debut in the last year’s boxing day Test at Melbourne. Siraj featured in all matches in the 5-match series against England.

In less than a year he achieved great heights in Test cricket with a fifer at Gabba and he also picked 8 wickets in the famous win at Lord’s.

As far as the 4th seamer slot is concerned, Shardul Thakur is likely to get the nod for it as the Mumbai all-rounder played some important cameos in his 4-Test career.

Also read Siraj, Ishant Or Umesh? Ashish Nehra Picks The Third Pacer For Centurion Test

Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane

MSK Prasad Backs Picking Ajinkya Rahane For South Africa Tour As He Does Well Overseas

MSK Prasad said it’s important for the selectors to have a plan to deal with senior batters who are going through a lean patch but backed Ajinkya Rahane for the tour of South Africa, starting December 26.

Former senior selection committee chief MSK Prasad backed Ajinkya Rahane’s selection for the tough South Africa tour, adding that experienced players are a must for overseas tours. MSK Prasad added that Ajinkya Rahane always does well in overseas conditions but his dip in form has put the Chetan Sharma-led selection committee in a spot.

MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)

MSK Prasad: Ajinkya Rahane Does Well Overseas But His Home Record Hasn’t Been Great And Selectors Can Look Into Picking Players Specific To Home And Away

MSK Prasad said the senior selection committee could look at picking players specific to home and away conditions, adding that it’s important to travel abroad with a good mix of youth and experience in the team.

India announced an 18-man squad for the Test series in South Africa, starting December 26. While Ajinkya Rahane, who has been under pressure over poor form, was retained in the squad, he was sacked as vice-captain. Rohit Sharma, who was appointed as India’s ODI captain on Wednesday, will be Virat Kohli’s deputy during the much-anticipated 3-Test series.

Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Getty Images)

“At the end of the day, it should be a mix of juniors and seniors. Even in 2013, he (Rahane) did well. Usually, Rahane performs well in overseas conditions but his record at home hasn’t been great. Taking these things into consideration, the selectors can look into players for home conditions and players for away conditions.” 

“Usually, Rahane is one guy who does really well in away conditions. Selectors are a bit puzzled because of his form. Whether they are going to look forward or back his experience is going to be their judgment,” he added.

Ajinkya Rahane did not play the recently-concluded 2nd Test against New Zealand at home due to an injury concern but his form in 2021 has led to questions over his place in the side. The former vice-captain has scored 411 in 12 Tests at a paltry average of 19.57 this year.

Ajinkya Rahane has had a horror run with the bat over the last year, which has seen his average dip to under 40(39.3). In fact, he averages a mere 19.57 in 12 Tests in 2021, his lowest average in a year since debuting in 2013.

MSK Prasad: Selectors Need To Pick A Squad With Perfect Blend Of Youth And Experience

However, Ajinkya Rahane has scored more than 3000 runs (3151 runs) overseas at an average of 41.46, which is better than his dipping home numbers of 35.74. In the last 10 years, Ajinkya Rahane has been a leading run-getter for India in SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand, Australia) and West Indies, scoring 2646 runs, and is next only to Virat Kohli (3551 runs) on the list.

MSK Prasad said selectors will love a healthy headache for spots in the team but it’s important they have a plan in place to deal with senior batters who are going through a lean patch.

Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source : GETTY IMAGE
Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane Image Source: GETTY IMAGE

“First of all, it is good to have a healthy headache for the selectors. And secondly, you need to have a system in place. How many opportunities would you be giving to a senior cricketer, when do you want to induct a youngster? How many youngsters are on a tour? These are the things you should take into consideration, there should be a good balance.”

“You just can’t simply remove all the seniors, at the same time, you can’t carry on with all youngsters, especially when you are going away. At home, you can try things but when you go away experience counts a lot. That’s why they need to have a perfect blend of youth and experience,” he added.

India and hosts South Africa will begin the 3-Test series with the Boxing Day Test in Centurion before heading to Johannesburg for the 2022 New Year’s Test. The series finale is scheduled to be played in Cape Town from January 11, 2022. The following players were not available for selection due to injuries and are currently undergoing rehabilitation: Ravindra Jadeja, Shubman Gill, Axar Patel, and Rahul Chahar.

India’s Test squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj.

Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.

KS Bharat keep wickets in place of Wriddhiman Saha on Day 3 of Kanpur Test (Image Source: Twitter)
KS Bharat keep wickets in place of Wriddhiman Saha on Day 3 of Kanpur Test (Image Source: Twitter)

KS Bharat May Debut And Open In The 2nd Mumbai Test, Backed By MSK Prasad

KS Bharat did well behind the stumps while substituting for Wriddhiman Saha in the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur, is in line to make his debut in the second Test, which begins at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.

While Wriddhiman Saha overcame a stiff neck to score a fighting half-century (61 not out) in the second innings at Green Park, there’s still uncertainty over his fitness and availability for the second Test.

India Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (Photo | PTI)
India Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (Photo | PTI)

KS Bharat Substituted Wriddhiman Saha And Did Well, So He May Debut In The 2nd Mumbai Test

On Wednesday, India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said that the Indian team management is yet to take a call on the availability of Wriddhiman Saha.

“We will take a call closer to the game. Physios are in constant touch with (India coach) Rahul (Dravid) and (India captain) Virat (Kohli).

Paras Mhambrey
Paras Mhambrey

The prospect of playing a Test in front of his home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday – after an eight-and-a-half-year Test career – should have got Ajinkya Rahane excited. Instead, the Mumbaikar is staring at a future as gloomy as the Mumbai weather was on Wednesday.

“Closer to the game, we can take a call on what condition he is in. What Saha did in the last game was a fabulous effort. It was painful to bat, but he raised his hands and delivered for the team,” Mhambrey told reporters.

The 37-year-old Wriddhiman Saha has amassed 1313 runs in 39 Tests averaging 29.84. He has 3 tons and 6 fifties. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh-born KS Bharat was immensely impressive in the first innings. He affected three key dismissals and played a massive role in helping India come back in the first innings.

Regular keeper Wriddhiman Saha experienced stiffness in his neck, and as a result, he didn’t keep much. Wriddhiman Saha suffered a sprain on his neck before the start of play.

KS Bharat Is Actually Natural Specialist Opener: MSK Prasad

Indian thinktank believes that India can overcome all their selection headaches for this game by giving a Test debut to KS Bharat by sending him as an opener with Shubman Gill. This move will allow India to fit in all their middle-order batsmen – the struggling Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, skipper Virat Kohli and Kanpur centurion debutant Shreyas Iyer.

This development will leave behind the hard decision to drop Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajinkya Rahane to another day. However, to expect KS Bharat to open in his very first Test, against the likes of Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson, and perhaps Neil Wagner, would be asking him to go through a baptism by fire.

KS Bharat will keep the wickets for India on Day five© AFP
KS Bharat will keep the wickets for India on Day five© AFP.

“It’s not a new thing to him. He’s actually a natural, specialist opener. He got his triple hundred for Andhra while opening the innings. He’s scored 90% of his runs as an opener. Given an opportunity, he can open for India,” former India chief selector and ex-stumper MSK Prasad said.

MSK Prasad, who played six Tests for India, pointed out that KS Bharat had “scored three hundred in days’ cricket” for India A too. Like everyone, MSK Prasad, who has observed KS Bharat’s growth closely both at Andhra and as a chairman of the national selection committee, was impressed by the 28-year-old’s neat glove-work, barring the odd mistake, in Kanpur.

“His ‘keeping was really good in the first Test. It’s not easy to keep wickets in Kanpur as the ball stays low and we have three kinds of spinners. If he gets the chance he’ll grab it,” Prasad said.

In the past, KS Bharat has opened for Andhra in the Ranji Trophy and has scored 4283 runs in 78 first-class games averaging 37.24, with nine hundred and 23 fifties, and even a triple hundred (308) under his belt. With doubts over veteran 37-year-old Wriddhiman Saha’s batting form and fitness, a Test debut for KS Bharat should not be far away. He is yet to play an international match for India in any format.

Harshal Patel
Harshal Patel (Image Credit: Twitter)

Harsha Bhogle Feels Adding Purple Cap Holder Harshal Patel To The 15-Man India Squad Might Not Be A Bad Idea

Harsha Bhogle thinks the addition of pacer Harshal Patel to the 15 men India roster for the T20I World Cup can be a good idea, since the BCCI can alter India’s 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup 2021 till October 10,

The UAE leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 season has given fans and experts many topics to debate. From the selection of certain underperforming players like Hardik Pandya and Rahul Chahar in India’s T20I World Cup squad to the non-selection of some superstars like Yuzvendra Chahal and Shikhar Dhawan, plenty of names have been in discussion.

Harsha Bhogle. Getty Images
Harsha Bhogle. Getty Images

Harsha Bhogle Feels Adding Purple Cap Holder Harshal Patel To The 15 Men India Team Roster Might Not Be A Bad Idea

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) eligible to make changes in the squad till October 10, a few names top the charts if, at all, the changes are made. Arguably the one that is leading the list is that of Royal Challengers Bangalore pacer Harshal Patel.

Even former BCCI selection committee chief, MSK Prasad, asserted that the team is a pacer short, going into the T20 World Cup 2021. However, with Harshal Patel already showing how effective he can be on the UAE pitches, Harsha Bhogle feels adding the right-arm pacer to the 15-man roster might not be a bad idea.

“If the pitches at the #ICCT20WorldCup2021 are going to be similar to these, picking Harshal Patel might not be a bad idea. (Changes allowed till October 10!),”Harsha Bhogle tweeted.

“A horses-for-courses practical selection. What do you guys think?”,Harsha Bhogle tweeted.

Harshal Patel, as a matter of fact, is the purple cap holder in the IPL 2021 season with 29 scalps to his name already. With a 3-wicket-haul against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Wednesday, Harshal Patel also broke Jasprit Bumrah’s record of taking the most wickets in a single IPL season for an Indian. Harsha Bhogle feels Harshal Patel’s addition to India’s squad can bolster the team, especially since the T20 WC is being held in UAE.

Harshal Patel Don’t Have Any Regret For Not Being In India’s T20I World Cup Squad

The 30-year-old pacer isn’t just a quality bowler but can also bat lower down the order, giving his team another incentive. Harshal Patel had recently also claimed a hat-trick for RCB, picking wickets on three successive deliveries against Mumbai Indians. After the match, the Gujarat-born cricketer was also asked about his Indian ambitions.

To which, he said: “I don’t have any regret anytime, the decisions I have taken in life have been taken as per my best ability at that time. And when it comes to selection, that is completely out of my hand.”

Harshal Patel
Harshal Patel (Image Credit: Twitter)

“There is the only goal for me, whichever team I play, be it a club or IPL team, or when I will play for the country or when I play for Haryana, I try to put a positive impact in the game from whichever situation with ball or bat.”

With Hardik Pandya yet to resume his role as an all-rounder, it does seem like India needs another bowling option at the T20 World Cup. However, considering Harshal Patel can prove to be handy with the bat too, there’s no denying that the uncapped cricketer fits the bill on various fronts for Team India.

Harshal Patel is the leading wicket-taker in IPL 2021 so far, with as many as 29 scalps in 13 matches averaging an impressive 14. This is his best tally since debuting in IPL 2012. The current Purple Cap holder pacer picked a hat-trick and returned with a four-wicket haul, conceding just 17 runs from his 3.1 over spell against Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians.

Harshal Patel overcame the mark set by Jasprit Bumrah of 27 wickets in the 2020 season. He achieved this feat in the match against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Abu Dhabi. The 30-year-old speedster bagged the wickets of SRH captain Kane Williamson, Wriddhiman Saha, and Jason Holder.

Rahul Dravid said that MS Dhoni will be remembered as a successful captain.© AFP
Rahul Dravid said that MS Dhoni will be remembered as a successful captain.© AFP

MSK Prasad Has Faith In MS Dhoni – Rahul Dravid Duo

MSK Prasad, former India chairman of selectors, named Ravi Shastri’s replacement as India head coach. MSK Prasad feels the Rahul Dravid-MS Dhoni combination can bring laurels to India post-Ravi Shastri-era.

Former BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad is confident of seeing Rahul Dravid take over as coach and MS Dhoni continue as a mentor of the Indian cricket team after the conclusion of Ravi Shastri’s tenure as India coach.

MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)

MSK Prasad: Rahul Dravid May Replace Ravi Shastri As Coach

Ravi Shastri, who has been serving as coach of the team since 2017, will pave way for the next coach after the competition of the T20 World Cup and with speculation rife that Rahul Dravid would be one of the candidates to replace Ravi Shastri as coach of the Indian team, MSK Prasad reckons that could well be a possibility.

Could Rahul Dravid replace Ravi Shastri as India's next head coach? (Getty Images)
Could Rahul Dravid replace Ravi Shastri as India’s next head coach? (Getty Images)

Rahul Dravid toured with the Indian limited-overs squad sans regular cricketers as coach to Sri Lanka in July, which was his first stint as coach of the senior team having already led India Under-19 and A teams in the past. Later, with MS Dhoni being named mentor of the team for the T20 World Cup, MSK Prasad definitely feels that the BCCI could spring a surprise out of nowhere.

“In my heart, I had this feeling. I was challenged recently by my colleagues that definitely post Ravi bhai’s era, MS has to come into the role of a mentor and Rahul Dravid as a coach. These were the discussions I had with my fellow commentators while I was doing commentary during the IPL. I had a feeling that Rahul, being the studious person that he is, will add value to Team India post-Ravi bhai’s era,” Prasad told Sports Tak.

Rahul Dravid was appointed as the Head of Cricket at NCA Bengaluru in July 2019 and has since played a key role in mentoring several youngsters at the academy.  It was being tipped that Rahul Dravid will take over as coach of the Indian team after Ravi Shastri’s tenure ends in November this year.

But he has until now made it clear to BCCI that he is not interested in taking up the job of a regular coach. Rahul Dravid has told BCCI that he would like to continue in his role at NCA and will continue creating a solid feeder line for Indian cricket.

MSK Prasad: Coach Rahul Dravid, Mentor MS Dhoni Could Be A Boon For India

Since most of the emerging players have come through the ranks under the guidance of Rahul Dravid, MSK Prasad is even more confident. He feels that the Rahul Dravid-MS Dhoni duo should be the way forward for Indian cricket and that would be very disappointed at anything otherwise. A little while ago, reports had surfaced that former cricketers VVS Laxman and Anil Kumble were in the fray, but nothing concrete emerged.


“Rahul as a coach, MS as a mentor is going to be a boon for Indian cricket. Both are cool and calm customers and one person is very studious and hard-working. More importantly, the number of players that are evolving right now have been groomed by Rahul, who was India A coach also. So it is some wonderful planning that is happening. I will be very disappointed if Rahul is not going to be the coach and MS is not a mentor post this management era,” Prasad added.

Former India captain MS Dhoni will be Team India’s mentor for the ICC T20 World Cup in UAE. MS Dhoni retired from international cricket in 2020. MS Dhoni has been captaining the IPL team Chennai Super Kings since 2008 and was the captain of the Indian cricket team which won the inaugural 2007 T20 World Cup. 

The 40-year-old talismanic skipper MS Dhoni retired from international cricket last year having played his last game in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. It is believed that he has been brought for his experience in devising white-ball strategy and also knowing how to win crucial ICC tournaments which have not been the case with his successor.

Indian Cricket Team
Indian Cricket Team. Image Credits: Twitter

It’s A Process Of Over 5 Years That’s Bearing Dividends: MSK Prasad On India Fielding Two Teams

MSK Prasad, the former chairman of selectors, has highlighted that Team India is reaping the rewards of the hard work that the selectors have put in over the last five years.

India will field two different teams simultaneously in international cricket after 23 long years. Virat Kohli & Co. will continue with their training in Durham, ahead of their Test series against England. The second Indian team, led by Shikhar Dhawan, will be in Colombo to face Sri Lanka for a white-ball series.

MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)

MSK Prasad: Process Of 5 Years Is Bearing Dividends

Both teams have good chances of winning their respective series. Former India cricketer and selector MSK Prasad credited India A tours and the IPL for surfacing unnurtured talent.

Former India’s chairman of selectors MSK Prasad opened up on India’s enormous talent pool that has enabled them to field two teams. MSK Prasad, who served as the chairman of India’s selectors until late 2019, produced mixed results for India, the high of which included the team’s maiden Test series win in Australia. But he stated that it’s the hard work of five years that has landed them to the possibility of fielding two teams.

“There have been numerous India A tours during my tenure as a selector. The senior team management, along with the national selectors and India A head staff would sit down and identify fringe players and hand them opportunities for the smooth transition to take place. It’s a process of over 5 years that’s bearing dividends,” said MSK Prasad.

Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan
Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan. (Photo Source: Twitter)

From 2017 to 2019, the India A team has played 24 unofficial Test matches, which is more than what New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Pakistan have played during this period. No other A team has played more than 14 unofficial Test matches, which speaks volumes about the time and money the BCCI has invested to build the bench strength.

Miles away from Durham where the Virat Kohli-led Test team is camped, Shikhar Dhawan on Sunday will walk out for the Colombo ODI. This will be the first time in 23 years that India will be fielding two teams simultaneously in international cricket. And interestingly both Indian teams start as favourites. This move showcases the staggering reservoir of talent at India’s disposal, something that Australia had tried to inculcate into its system.

Inzamam-ul-Haq: Idea Of Assembling A Second Indian Team Interesting And India Appears To Pull It Off

Former Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq, meanwhile, is fascinated by the idea of fielding two different teams simultaneously. The legendary batsman is confident that India can pull it off, unlike Australia, who had failed to do the same a few years back.

“This idea of assembling a second Indian team is interesting. What India are trying to do today, Australia did this years ago, but they were not able to be successful in it. India appears to be pulling it off,” Inzamam-ul-Haq said on his YouTube channel, Inzamam ul Haq – The Match Winner.

Inzamam-ul-Haq | AFP
Inzamam-ul-Haq | AFP

In 2017, Australia decided to send completely different squads for playing the Test series against India and a T20I series against Sri Lanka at the same time. In February 2017, Australia had played a T20I against Sri Lanka in Adelaide on February 22, and on the next day, their Test team played India in Pune in the first game of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

In September 1998, India was scheduled to participate at the Commonwealth Games in Malaysia, a showpiece event that was overlapping with the big-ticket five-match ODI series against Pakistan in Toronto. BCCI assembled two squads — one led by Ajay Jadeja that bowed out of CWG with just one win, while the other led by incumbent captain Mohammed Azharuddin were skittled away 4-1.

MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)
MSK Prasad. (Photo Source: Twitter)

MSK Prasad Opens Up On Arguments With Ravi Shastri And Virat Kohli During His Tenure As Chief Selector Till 2019 World Cup

MSK Prasad, whose stint as the BCCI chief selector came to an end after the 2019 World Cup, often faced questions regarding him being overshadowed by India captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri.

For a large part of his tenure as chief selector of the Indian cricket team, MSK Prasad brought several new prominent youngsters to Indian cricket – including the likes of all-rounder Hardik Pandya and dashing keeper Rishabh Pant, both of whom have proven to be match-winners for the team.

MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad (Getty Images)

MSK Prasad Asked If There Was A Perception That He Was Too Humble In Front Of Ravi Shastri And Virat Kohli

In a recent interaction, MSK Prasad was once again asked about the perception that he was “too humble” in front of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri.

“There was a perception that you were too humble in front of someone like Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. People can’t imagine how you could win arguments against such aggressive professionals?” MSK Prasad was asked in an interaction on

Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli
Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. PTI Photo by Shashank Parade (PTI11_21_2014_000176B)

In response, the former India wicketkeeper-batsman revealed that he often engaged in arguments with both Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, but added that all of them are professionals and understand the role they needed to play for the benefit of the team.

“You ask them what kind of arguments we had. Sometimes, we didn’t want to see each other (after meetings) but the beauty of them is that the next morning when we would meet, they would recognize and acknowledge that there is (merit in the) point we made,” MSK Prasad revealed.

“I am a management student and know how to manage. People want me to blame someone publicly? Why should I do that because it is my family? I may like or dislike decisions even at home in my family but can I come out and say something publicly?” MSK Prasad added.

The 46-year-old was often criticized for his decisions as he was not an experienced campaigner on the international circuit. The wicketkeeper-batsman’s 23 international appearances included six Tests and 17 ODIs with a solitary half-century.

MSK Prasad: Just Because Indian Team Management Didn’t Have Differences Publicly Doesn’t Mean Succumbing To The Duo Of Virat Kohli And Ravi Shastri

India’s former chief selector MSK Prasad in a recent interaction revealed that he used to have arguments with skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri. MSK Prasad has often been criticized for the decisions he took during his tenure which includes picking Vijay Shankar over Ambati Rayudu in World Cup 2019 squad to Yuvraj Singh’s ouster after Champions Trophy 2017.

File image of Yuvraj Singh | Oli Scarff/AFP
File image of Yuvraj Singh | Oli Scarff/AFP

During MSK Prasad’s tenure, many young talents including Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant joined the competition in the senior team. Even, Jasprit Bumrah got the chance in the Test team following which he enjoyed success with the red-ball too.

“Virat and Ravi will tell you about that (how we used to have heated debates). Just because we didn’t have differences publicly doesn’t mean that we were succumbing to them. Who knows how we have convinced them on so many issues,” he signed off.

MSK Prasad did not reveal the details of the arguments but said that in the end, the two sides acknowledged the points each other made.

One very disturbing trend in his tenure was the lack of predictability in his selection pattern. There were haphazard chopping and changing of the squad, across formats, amid a few allegations that players were not informed of the reason behind their exclusions.

The first in his tenure was Karun Nair, the man who notched up 303 runs against England at home before he lost his spot in the Indian Test team and did not get a recall despite decent knocks in domestic cricket. Limited-overs cricket too witnessed the same in the buildup to India’s World Cup 2019 preparations.

Ambati Rayudu was constantly backed as India’s No.4 batsman for the tournament. And after a stretch of only 14 innings, Ambati Rayudu incurred a failure, against Australia at home, and he was eventually dropped from the ODI team. Vijay Shankar, who had only made his debut a few months back in January 2019, found his name on the World Cup list.

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav (BCCI)

Suryakumar Yadav Is The Batsman To Watch Out For In 3 ODIs And As Many T20Is vs Sri Lanka, Says MSK Prasad

MSK Prasad, former India chief selector believes the 30-year-old Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav can make a big impact in the upcoming limited-overs series in Sri Lanka. India is set to play three ODIs and three T20Is starting July 13th against Sri Lanka.

But with Virat Kohli-led Test squad away in England, India is expected to send a squad of fringe players to Sri Lanka for the limited-overs series. So, MSK Prasad believes that players like Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, and Sanju Samson, who have been excellent in the IPL, can make a great impact in the series.

MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad (Getty Images)

MSK Prasad Feels Standby For England, Avesh Khan Will Be Unfortunate If He Miss Out On Playing Either Series

MSK Prasad also praised Delhi Capitals fast bowler Avesh Khan, who has been named as a standby in the UK tour, and said it would be unfortunate if the pacer misses both the series.

“Suryakumar Yadav is the guy to watch out for. Ishan and Sanju also have a great opportunity at hand. I would have also loved to see Avesh Khan (named standby for the UK tour). He has been excellent in the IPL, and it would be unfortunate to see him miss out on playing in either series,” Prasad told Sportstar.

Avesh Khan has been instrumental in Delhi Capitals’ early success in IPL 2021. Image: BCCI
Avesh Khan has been instrumental in Delhi Capitals’ early success in IPL 2021. Image: BCCI

While Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar look certain to be included in the Indian side, speculations are rife over who all are going to be included in the side. Young guns like Prithvi Shaw, Devdutt Padikkal, N Jagadeesan, and Chetan Sakariya might get rewarded for a good show in the IPL 2020-2021 while Suryakumar Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Ishan Kishan are likely to retain their spots.

Avesh Khan was a find of IPL 2021 for picking 14 wickets in 8 games and being 2nd highest wicket-taker before IPL 2021 was suspended for a surge in Covid-19 cases.

MSK Prasad: Confidence Level Of Modern Cricketers Is High An Example Being Suryakumar Yadav’s First Ball Six On Debut

MSK Prasad further on to went explain how the youngster of today’s generation is differentiating themselves from the players from the bygone era.

“The skill level back then was similar to what we have now. But the confidence levels of the boys today are five times more than what we had then,” Prasad said.

“Simple example: first ball, Suryakumar Yadav, gets an opportunity to play in a T20I game, smashes one of the best bowlers in the world for a six. Or Ishan Kishan, the way he blasted the opposition (England) on debut.”

He went on to make a bold prediction.

“I won’t be surprised if this young squad wins the series in Sri Lanka,” Prasad signed off.

Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan were given their debut caps ahead of India's second T20I against England in Ahmedabad on Sunday. - SPORTZPICS
Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan. SPORTZPICS.

Suryakumar Yadav has so far played two T20I innings. He has scored 89 runs at an average of 44.50 and a strike rate of 185.41. He kicked off his international career with a magnificent six against English speedster Jofra Archer.

Suryakumar Yadav has scored 512, 424, and 484 runs respectively in the last three seasons for Mumbai Indians and played a key role in them winning two titles. Ishan Kishan, another Mumbai Indians batsman scored 56 runs off just 32 balls while Suryakumar Yadav did not get a chance to bat in the 2nd T20I match where both batsmen debuted.

Suryakumar Yadav got the chance to bat in the fourth T20I and went on to score 57 runs from 31 deliveries before scoring a rapid 32 off 17 balls in the series decider T20I and was inducted in the ODI squad.

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