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'I was waiting to see Dhoni in the IPL'

May 21, 2020 10:32 IST

'Rishabh Pant must have gone through tough times because of the expectations on him.'
'It is not always easy to step into the shoes of a legendary cricketer.'

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Mahendra Singh Dhoni was looking to make a comeback to competitive cricket in this year's IPL which has now been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Danish Siddique/Reuters

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's likely comeback to the IPL generated huge interest before the T20 league was postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It remains to be seen when cricket resumes and if Dhoni can force his way back into the Indian team for the T20 World Cup, having last played in the 2019 World Cup semi-final in July 2019.

Former chief selector M S K Prasad -- a wicket-keeper himself during his playing days -- assesses Dhoni's likely successors behind the stumps in limited overs cricket -- Rishabh Pant and K L Rahul -- in the concluding part of a two-part interview with Harish Kotian/Rediff.com.

There is a belief that the IPL is given more importance than domestic cricket when it comes to selection for the Indian team. Is that true?

The IPL is a very big platform where the best in the business play. It's pretty natural that performances in the IPL gets a lot of publicity and recognition.

As the selection committee, we definitely used to consider the performance in the IPL but only when picking the Indian team for rhe T20 format alone.

Someone like K L Rahul has developed into a tremendous all-round player in the last couple of years. He came back strongly after he was dropped. What was the message given to him when he was not doing well?

KL is a phenomenal player and he is capable of performing well across all formats.

Yes, he did have a bit of a rough period. But he has worked hard, he has gone back to domestic cricket, did extremely well for Karnataka and has come back stronger.

KL Rahul

IMAGE: K L Rahul is a player for all seasons and all formats, says M S K Prasad. Photograph: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

What is your view on Rahul taking on the role as wicket-keeper in limited overs cricket for India? Does that give the team much more balance?

KL was originally a wicket-keeper. He kept wickets till his Under-19 days.

He had kept wickets for Karnataka in the last couple of seasons and maybe that has given him confidence.

The way he kept wickets in New Zealand is a tribute to his hard work and commitment.

Apart from his batting, is Rahul the one that can be groomed as the India captain for the future?

KL definitely has good shoulders on his head.

Now that he is made captain of the Kings XI Punjab, it would be interesting to see how he progresses as a leader.

Having done well in limited overs cricket, do you see Rahul having a role in Test cricket as well?

KL is a player for all seasons and all formats.

Rishabh Pant

IMAGE: Rishabh Pant is the only Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who got Test centuries in both England and Australia, points out M S K Prasad. Photograph: BCCI

Having been a wicket-keeper-batsman yourself, what is your views on Rishabh Pant? Why was he not able to make a mark and should India continue to back him?

Rishabh is a brilliant cricketer.

He is the only Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who got Test centuries in both England and Australia.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to step into the shoes of a legendary cricketer when time and again he is being compared (to Mahendra Singh Dhoni).

He must have gone through tough times because of this expectations on him.

As he was playing all formats and also lot of cricket, he might not have got time to look back at himself and also about the necessary changes he needs to bring into his game to do consistently well .

Now that he got a a very big break I am sure he would have analysed his game much better.

I am sure he will come back really strong when he takes the field in the next given opportunity.

What is your views on Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was supposed to make a comeback in the IPL which has now been postponed indefinitely.
Do you see him getting another chance to play for India considering India have Rahul and Pant as wicket-keeping options?

Like any other fan of MSD, I was also waiting to see him in action in the IPL.

Unfortunately, due to the prevailing situation, the IPL has been delayed. Let's wait and see.

Despite the selectors opting for Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja never gave up and made a good comeback to limited overs cricket by grabbing whatever opportunities he got after that.
Should that serve as the template for other players who have lost the selectors's favour?

Yes, of course.

Rohit Sharma's success as the opener in Test cricket, does that make you happy that he finally got it right in Tests? What prompted the move to make him open in Tests?

Rohit had been in tremendous form in the last few years in the shorter formats.

Though he was part of the Test squad, he was not getting the right position to bat.

And when we gave him chance to bat at the top, he has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and we are extremely happy for him.

What next for you? Will continue your association with cricket?

A cricketer once is a cricketer forever.

Nothing can give him satisfaction than being associated with the game and I am no different from it.

I will be associated with the game in whatever way I can.

HARISH KOTIAN