In an exclusive interview with ET Sports, chairman of Indian cricket selection committee MSK Prasad talks about the 15-member squad chosen for the World Cup 2019. Excerpts
How are you feeling after your first World Cup selection?
For a long time we’ve been building to this day. We’ve watched every possible match we needed to, discussed and analysed for hours and hours to make sure we are as thorough as possible.
We needed to choose the best 15 and we have. This is the best 15 we could have given Virat (Kohli) and the team management to do the job in England. So yes, you can say I am satisfied at having finished a job, which I consider complete to the best of our ability.
But there are questions being asked as well. Tell us why Ambati Rayudu had to miss out when he was the chosen No. 4 a few months back?
More than Ambati Rayudu missing out the question we need to ask is why did Vijay Shankar make it. Is he the better option on current form? Does he offer a little bit more? The answer is yes. He is a three dimensional cricketer and has shown enough to prove that he’s a very good No. 4 option.
He’s also a very good fielder and can offer Virat an extra bowling option. With Vijay in the team, you have seven bowling options for Virat.
That’s what is necessary in very good batting conditions. While I feel for Rayudu I have to say Vijay has done extremely well in the last few months to seal his spot in the side.
And Rishabh Pant? What prompted you and your committee to choose Dinesh Karthik over him?
It was a very close call. Rishabh was almost there. But then like I said in the press conference DK or Rishabh would only play if MS Dhoni gets injured. And in such a situation Karthik’s experience will serve the team well. Let’s put it this way — Karthik is closer to the role MS Dhoni plays for the Indian team than Rishabh at this point. He has the experience, he can finish games and he’s of course an able wicketkeeper. I think Karthik deserved this opportunity and would surely do justice to it.
The thing that you have been harping on is balance. Can you elaborate on it a little more?
This team has all its bases covered. Think about it and you’ll see what I’m trying to get at. We’ve three of the best batsmen in the world at the top and in case there is an injury we’ve KL Rahul who’s as good as anyone in the world.
In Hardik, Shankar and Kedar we’ve all round ability in the team not to forget Ravindra Jadeja. We’ve Kuldeep and Chahal as spinners and Jadeja is perhaps the most able back up you can ever find. The fast bowlers, Bumrah, Shami, Bhuvi are all experienced and they’ll be backed up by Hardik. So we’ve given Virat maximum options possible and that’s the key to selecting a team for the World Cup.
Do you believe India go into the World Cup as one of the favourites?
Absolutely. We’ve a fantastic team and they’re all in reasonably good form. Look at our record in white ball cricket in the last two years and there’s no doubt India have the potential to win the trophy. But the emphasis should be on the process, on preparation and to give yourself the best possible chance. That’s what is the key. The result will automatically follow if your preparation is good enough. And my emphasis has always been on process and not on the result. Because if you’re process driven you’ll more often than not end up on the winning side.