Ravi Shastri, the former India head coach, recently questioned the logic behind the team selection for the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. Shastri said he didn’t understand why selectors picked three wicketkeepers when they could have gone for either Ambati Rayudu or Shreyas Iyer to shore up their middle order.
India had MS Dhoni, Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik in their squad the 2019 ODI World Cup as they exited in the semi-finals, losing to New Zealand. One of the biggest criticisms of the team selection back then was the failure to zero in on a reliable batter at No. 4 with Rayudu being projected as a strong candidate but he ultimately failed to make the cut.
“I had no say in that. But I wasn’t okay with three wicketkeepers being picked for the World Cup. Either Ambati or Shreyas could’ve come in. What was the logic in having MS Dhoni, Rishabh and Dinesh all together?” Shastri told The Times of India.
However, Sarandeep Singh, who was part of the panel that picked the squad, says while Shastri is right in claiming he had no say in the selection, the then coach and captain Virat Kohli were “on the same page”.
“Ravi Shastri is right that the coach does not have any say in the selection meeting but the selection committee goes to the ground, speaks to the captain and head coach and tells them about the plans and we also ask what they want. If there is any player you are asking for. If you look at the last few years, we are winning almost every bilateral series,” said Sarandeep told ANI.
“He is the head coach so he can say which player he wants. He can say anything to Virat about what he wants. Sometimes it happens that we feel differently but at the end of the day we are always on the same page. For four years we never had different thoughts with Ravi bhai and he is a good coach also. He listens to us all the time. So, suddenly if something like this came up, we always sat together and were always on the same page,” he added.
India were hit by multiple injures during the 2019 WC. They lost allrounder Vijay Shankar and Shikhar Dhawan to injures in the midst of their campaign. Dhawan was eventually replaced by Pant and Sarandeep explains why the selectors took the call.
“All the three wicket-keepers are very good as batsmen,” he said. “A selector does not interfere in selection. Rishabh Pant was selected when Shikhar Dhawan got injured during the World Cup. We already had an opener in KL Rahul. So, we were looking for someone to come and bat in the middle order and play big shots. This is the reason why Rishabh Pant was in the team.”
He continued, “But to pick playing eleven is team management’s call. The selection committee does not interfere in it. In the 2019 World Cup if you are looking at selection of Rishabh Pant then he was not their first choice. MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik were in the team and we were winning all the matches. We even topped the table.”
Sarandeep said Shastri’s comments are “upsetting” as they did their job fairly.
“But suddenly with these things coming, it will be upsetting for us because we did our job fairly. We travelled all the time, we saw domestic matches in which batsmen, bowlers or all-rounders are doing well. There is nothing like that we never share anything and we just have things on the table and we say that this is the team. The captain is also sitting in the meeting all the time,” he said.
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