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Selectors put MS Dhoni on notice

CricketSelectors put MS Dhoni on notice

PALLEKELE: Yuvraj Singh has already lost his place in the Indian ODI team and the pressure is now squarely on another veteran, MS Dhoni, to retain his place. On Monday, chief selector MSK Prasad -while sticking to the usual line that Yuvraj had been “rested” and not “dropped” – was non-committal when asked if Dhoni would feature in India’s plans for the 2019 World Cup.

“We will see, we will see. The legend that he is, we don’t want to make it (public)…but yes we have a plan (for him),” said the former India wicketkeeper. Prasad admitted that the days of Dhoni being automatically pencilled into the team sheet had gone. “We don’t say it is an automatic thing… but we will see. We are all stakeholders (in Indian cricket). We all want the Indian team to do well. If he is delivering, why not? If he is not, we will have to look at alternatives,” said the 42-year-old Prasad.Dhoni

Prasad hoped that at 36, Dhoni would do an Andre Agassi, who made a sensational comeback to the top of the tennis world in the last part of his career. “Whenever a player keeps ageing…I was just reading (Andre) Agassi’s book, ‘Open’, his life actually started after he was 30. Till then, he had won two or three (Grand Slams). His actual life started after that. He lived with the media pressure, ‘When are you going to retire?’ But he played till 36, and won so many Grand Slams. So you never know.”

Dhoni, incidentally, will be 38 by the next World Cup.

New rotation policy

Explaining the reason behind leaving the 35-year-old Yuvraj out, Prasad said the selectors had decided to introduce a ‘rotation policy’ for identifying players for the next World Cup. The selectors have identified around 25 players.

“You said that we have dropped him (Yuvi). Let me be very clear; we have started a policy where we have identified some set of players (around 25) who will be considered for the next four-five months, and we will rotate them in this period, after which we will come to a picture that these are players who will go on to play the World Cup. In that process we have started, we will rotate and rest some of the main players, so that we’ll see how some of these youngsters do, and then take a call by the end of the year,” Prasad said.

Fitness parameters

Prasad also revealed that his panel wasn’t happy with the fitness and fielding standards of the Indian team during the Champions Trophy, hinting that it was a reason why Yuvraj was excluded for the Sri Lanka ODIs. He revealed that the BCCI, taking a cue here from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), would soon introduce “fitness parameters” which team India players must adhere to. “I can put my hand on my heart and say that after the Champions Trophy, we felt that we need to be a fitter and a stronger side. We felt that we need to raise our fitness levels and fielding standards. I’d like to officially tell you that you will also get an official note from the BCCI, that we’re trying to fix some fitness parameters and whoever it is, has to strictly adhere to those parameters.

“We have two to three phases in those parameters leading up to the 2019 World Cup and if someone fails to match to those parameters, then he will not be considered irrespective of whoever it is,” he asserted.

Prasad stressed that his panel hadn’t “closed the door” on the likes of Yuvraj and Suresh Raina yet. “The doors are never closed on anybody. Everybody has a right to play cricket. It’s their passion, and they’re chasing it,” he said.

Rahul to bat at No. 4 in Lanka ODIs

The selection committee chairman revealed that the Indian ODI team will experiment by accommodating opener KL Rahul in the middle order, where he’ll bat No 4, a slot previously occupied by Yuvraj. Due to recurring injuries, Rahul has played in only six ODIs so far in his career.
“We’re going to try out Rahul at No. 4. He’s too good to sit out. Because Dhawan and Rohit are in good form, we will start with ‘KL’ in that particular order,” said Prasad.

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