It will not be an understatement to say that the MSK Prasad-led Indian selection panel was the most controversial one in Indian cricket history. The fans and critics always called out the officials for picking selectors who had little experience of playing on the cricket field.
MSK Prasad had played 6 Tests and 17 ODIs for India in his brief international career. As per the reports, BCCI had controversially appointed him as a chief selector by going against the ordered directions of Supreme Court in September 2016. He selected the Indian team for two ICC events – ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and ICC World Cup 2019.
Now that his tenure has come to an end, let us have a look at the 5 most controversial decisions taken by MSK Prasad as Indian selector.
1. Bringing back Kedar Jadhav for the ODI series against West Indies
Starting with the recent-most entry on this list, the Indian selection panel raised a lot of eyebrows by calling back an out-of-form Kedar Jadhav back to the Indian ODI team for the series against West Indies. Kedar has been a match-winner for the Indian team however, he has struggled a lot this year.
The fans saw how he mistimed the balls in IPL 2019 as well as the succeeding World Cup 2019. Jadhav can be a valuable off-spin bowler in the middle overs but that is not considered to be his primary role. Besides, his age is also on the wrong side of the 30s.
It is unlikely that the Maharashtra-based player would feature in the 2023 World Cup for India hence, the Men in Blue could have tried out a new all-rounder in this position. Prasad’s decision to call back Jadhav surprised a lot of fans.
2. Picking Vijay Shankar in World Cup 2019 squad
Vijay Shankar is undoubtedly one of the best fast-bowling all-rounders of the country. He is second only to Hardik Pandya in terms of the fast-bowling all-rounders and he deserves to play for India when Hardik is unavailable. Shankar has the ability to bat in the middle order but, he never had the experience of playing in English conditions.
The decision to pick Shankar in the World Cup squad ahead of Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu shocked the cricketing fraternity. Rishabh was being groomed to be the next big thing in Indian cricket while even Virat Kohli had backed Rayudu to be India’s number 4 batsman.
While Pant eventually got a chance to play in the World Cup, Rayudu announced his retirement after missing out on the chance. Besides, Shankar was ruled out of the tournament because of an injury. Hence, the fans censured Prasad’s decision at the marquee event.
3. Not giving Sanju Samson a single opportunity
The speculations of MS Dhoni bidding adieu to the game have been circulating for a while now. He has already taken a long break from cricket which has led to the rumours of his retirement. In this scenario, India need at least more than one wicket-keepers ready to step in Dhoni’s shoes.
The MSK Prasad-led committee backed Rishabh Pant to be the Jharkhand-born superstar’s successor but, once he failed there was no plan B. Sanju Samson was playing consistently in the domestic circuit yet he never made it to the squad.
The selectors finally picked him for the series against Bangladesh only to drop him from the squad without giving him a single match. However, luck favoured Samson and an unfortunate injury to Shikhar Dhawan has brought him back in the Indian T20I squad.
4. Not trying MS Dhoni as a permanent number 4 batsman
It is no secret that MS Dhoni is not the finisher that he once was. Back in his prime, Dhoni used to single-handedly turn the tables in India’s favour with his magical innings. His trademark approach of slowing down the game and then changing gears as per the situation earned him the praise from every nook and corner.
However, as the years progressed, Dhoni’s strike rate also reduced a bit. He took more balls to get settled in the middle yet India used him at the number 5,6 or 7 position only. It was not that India had a perfect number 4 batsman but they also wished to have Dhoni at the aforementioned positions.
Had the Indian selectors given Dhoni a chance to bat at number 4, one can only imagine how improved India’s batting lineup would look. Rishabh Pant and Vijay Shankar did not have the experience of playing at number 4 but they could have been handy at the 5,6 or 7 positions. Unfortunately, Dhoni played a few matches in the top 4 but he never received a permanent promotion.
5. Excluding Yuvraj Singh from the T20I team
The cricket universe can understand that the Indian selectors wished to build a young team in the T20I team. Hence, they tried a lot of youngsters in the middle order at the expense of the big names. Players like Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh were still in good shape when they were dropped from the T20I team.
Both the players, especially Yuvraj Singh has been the cornerstone of the Indian T20I team for quite some time. However, he never received a proper farewell. Besides, the Indian team has not found its ideal all-rounder and finisher till now.
Krunal Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar have not yet cemented their places in the Indian T20I team. Looking at how many T20I matches India has lost after Yuvraj’s exit, it would have been great had he stayed with the youngsters and trained them for some time. He has been hitting the big shots in the foreign T20 leagues which shows he still has the power to clear the boundaries.
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