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Published On: Tue, Aug 15th, 2017

If Dhoni is not delivering, we will have to look at alternatives: MSK Prasad

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616974-ms-dhoni-reuters   PALLEKE:E : Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has said that former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future is being discussed at selection meetings but they will look at alternatives only if the Jharkhand dasher doesn’t deliver.
After explaining Yuvraj Singh’s omission, Prasad was asked about Dhoni and he replied:”You have been fair and I will be honest. Discussions happen about everybody. It is not just MS. When we pick, when we talk about combinations, we talk about everybody. You will also see in times to come.Asked about Dhoni’s future, the chairman said that it’s difficult to predict but till he is delivering for the team, it shouldn’t be a problem.
“You never know. We don’t say it is an automatic thing (selection) 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 will have to look at alternatives,” Prasad answered in a pragmatic manner.  He then drew the Andre Agassi analogy about how some players get better with age.

“I was just reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography ‘Open’, his life actually started after 30 years. Till then, he won two or three. His actual life started after that. He lived under the media pressure with the question “When are you going to retire?” But he played till 36 and he won so many Grand Slams.”NEW

Looking at things in a rather practical and a realistic way, India’s chief selector MSK Prasad spoke on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future in one-day international cricket clarifying that the panel would look for alternatives if he fails to deliver.
Dhoni missed out on the first Test match against Australia, at the land of the Kangaroos, back in 2014 and right after the second, the wicketkeeper-batsman announced his retirement from Test cricket. Since then, Dhoni has been part of India’s ODI and T20I squad. But right after the team’s campaign at England for the ICC Champions Trophy, questions were raised about his future in the team.

Ahead of the Champions Trophy, Virat had called Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, the two pillars of the team and that they were included owing to their experience and power to deliver when situations required. However, the Ranchi-based cricketer didn’t have the nicest outing at England. And thus his selection for the Windies tour was questioned.

His highlight in the five-match ODI series in the Caribbean was a 79-ball 78 that helped secure India a comprehensive win in the third game and then came the 114-ball 51 which turned out to be one of his slowest innings ever. Regardless of it, the former skipper is back again in the ODI series up against Sri Lanka and MSK Prasad has reasons to back it up.
“You have been fair and I will be honest. Discussions happen about everybody. It is not just MS. When we pick, when we talk about combinations, we talk about everybody. You will also see in times to come,” he said, on Monday after India’s historic 3-0 Test series win over Sri Lanka.

Finally, the long awaited question followed – Is MS Dhoni, who will by then turn 38, part of India’s 2019 World Cup plan? And Prasad being rather diplomatic in his approach said that as long as Dhoni is being able to deliver he will remain in the squad. “You never know. We don’t say it is an automatic thing (selection) but we will see.  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,” Prasad said.

“We will see, we will see. The legend that he is, we don`t want to make it… but yes we have a plan,” he said, speaking about the man who had led his side to three ICC trophy victories.Drawing comparisons with former tennis ace Andre Agassi, Prasad said that there are some players who get better with age or as Dhoni had said, “It’s like wine”.

“I was just reading Andre Agassi’s autobiography ‘Open’, his life actually started after 30 years. Till then, he won two or three. His actual life started after that. He lived under the media pressure with the question “When are you going to retire?” But he played till 36 and he won so many Grand Slams,” said Prasad.
“We don`t say it is an automatic this 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 will have to look at alternatives,” he added.Alternatives for Dhoni – Dinesh Karthik, who has been inconsistent with his batting and then comes youngster Rishabh Pant, who was phenomenal during the tenth season of IPL but seems to require more exposure.

The latter, in fact, has often been compared to Dhoni. A good hitter of the ball, quicker indeed between the wickets, behind the stumps…fairly good. And Prasad and selectors are already grooming him up so that the Delhi Daredevils batsman can ease himself into the Indian squad.

“As far as Rishabh is concerned, he is one talent to watch out for the future,” Prasad said. “We have been grooming him for A tours. He went to South Africa on the A tour but he had a pretty ordinary tour but that doesn’t mean he is not on our radar. There is one more A tour coming up. We all know Rishabh Pant more as a Twenty20 player, so we will look at him in that format also.”

Yuvraj Singh has however been rested for the Sri Lanka series with Prasad explaining it as a rotation policy that the selection panel is trying to follow keeping 2019 cricket World Cup in mind.

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