A middle-order batsman for an opener and an opener for an all-rounder – Indian selectors’ decision during ICC World Cup 2019 left most fans and even veterans of the game confused. However, chairman of the selection committee, MSK Prasad, on Sunday explained the scenario after announcing India’s squads for West Indies series.
Shikhar Dhawan had incurred a thumb injury after India’s second match in the tournament. The opener wanted to wait for his recovery, but he was eventually ruled out of World Cup 2019 after scan reports revealed a hairline fracture in his thumb.
Instead of an opener for an opener, the management went with middle-order batsman Rishabh Pant as Dhawan’s replacement. However, KL Rahul, who was initially batting at No.4, was shifted up the order to open alongside Rohit Sharma, while Vijay Shankar was slotted in at No.4.
On Sunday, Prasad was asked about the puzzling replacement calls during World Cup 2019, and he justified the management’s decision.
“With regards to the selection, there is a policy that in between the series or mega-events like the World Cup, I don’t take press conferences which has led to a lot of speculation,” he said.
He added, “When Shikhar Dhawan was injured, we already had a reserve opener in KL Rahul. At that juncture, we didn’t have a left-hander at the top. The team management requested for a lefthander. We had no other choice other than Rishabh Pant. We knew his capability. That’s the reason why we had to bring in a left-hander.
“Subsequently, when Vijay Shankar was injured, why an opener was brought in… that’s the confusion. IN the game against England, KL Rahul fell on his back and he didn’t take the field. There was so much of worry factor. At that juncture, a mail was written that we need a back-up opener. We looked at some of the openers. Some were not in form and some were injured. That’s when we went to Mayank Agarwal.”