Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, Ajinkya Rahane in World Cup Contention: MSK Prasad
MSK Prasad, chairman of India’s selection panel, has revealed that although the selectors have pretty much finalised on India’s squad for the upcoming ICC World Cup 2019, they are still undecided on the “one odd” position. India’s top three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli is settled so does the bowling lineup. The team-management was in dilemma over whom to choose as the third pacer but Mohammed Shami’s performance must have ended it.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav look set to take responsibility of the spin department while the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik are also all but sure to fly to England. MS Dhoni’s place was never in doubt but there is still room for one batsman in the middle-order or as a back-up opener and Prasad has said Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant and Ajinkya Rahane are all in contention for a spot in the World Cup squad.
Pant was not a part of the ODI team for the series in Australia and New Zealand but his performance in the recent T20Is against New Zealand and Tests have put him in good stead for a spot in the ODI team.
“Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention,” MSK Prasad told ESPNCricinfo. “A healthy headache. The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible.”
Prasad further said that Vijay would be the fourth allrounder in the pool of 20 players the selectors have drawn up to then pick the final 15. Shankar impressed in the T20I series against New Zealand, scoring 43 off 28 balls in the final game and 23 in the series opener. Prior to that, he had made his ODI debut against Australia at Melbourne.
“In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skillsets required at this level. We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team,” said MSK Prasad.
He also sprung a surprise by saying that Rahane is in contention too for his fine performance in domestic arena. In the ongoing season, Rahane has scored 597 runs in 11 List A innings at an average of 74.62 including two tons and three fifties. Two of those fifties came recently for India A in the unofficial ODI series against England Lions .
“In domestic cricket he has been in form,” Prasad said. “He is very much in contention for the World Cup.”