We're moving on from Dhoni and backing Pant: MSK Prasad
- MSK Prasad said that they were now looking beyond Dhoni while building the team for the next T20 and 50-over World Cups
- With Pant doing so well and Sanju Samson coming into the side, I’m sure that you must be understanding our thought process: MSK
MUMBAI: On a day when reports emerged that he is set to train with the Jharkhand Under-23 team, the doors of the Indian dressing room seemed to be slammed shut even harder for MS Dhoni.
On Thursday, the national selection committee, led by MSK Prasad, communicated to the new BCCI president, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, in the presence of current captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Rohit Sharma, that they were now looking beyond Dhoni while building the team for the next T20 and 50-over World Cups. Post the meeting, Prasad aired the views of his panel in no uncertain terms: Pant will be backed over Dhoni even though the 22-year-old has suffered a slump in form recently.
“Post World Cup, I have been very clear on this, that after this tournament, we have started backing Rishabh Pant. So we will still back him and see that he progresses well. Of course, he might not have performed as per our expectations, but we can still only make a player by backing somebody. So, we are confident that he will come out successful,” stressed Prasad.
Pressed further on whether his committee had moved beyond Dhoni for sure, Prasad explained: “I have made it very clear that post the World Cup, we are moving on (from Dhoni). We are giving opportunities to youngsters and see that they establish themselves in the side. With Pant doing so well and Sanju Samson coming into the side, I’m sure that you must be understanding our thought process.”
The queries over Dhoni, though, won’t stop. So how long would the selectors experiment with youngsters before going back to Dhoni, asked a reporter. “I can’t keep repeating the same thing,” Prasad shot back, before reiterating that his committee “was focused on backing a youngster like Pant, and see that he progresses well.”
He claimed that Dhoni is on the same page with the selectors on this issue. “We had a chat with Dhoni and he also endorses our view of backing youngsters,” said the chief selector.
With the selectors firm in their decision, the ball is in Dhoni’s court now — try hard for a comeback at 38, or call it quits on what has been a glorious, epic career. “Going into domestic cricket, getting his touch back or retirement, everything is purely his decision. We’ve already laid the roadmap for the future,” Prasad said.
It would be interesting to see how Ganguly now communicates with Dhoni. There’s now little hope for Dhoni even if the selection committee sees a revamp. The likes of former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar, Laxman Sivaramakrishnan and Ajit Agarkar are tipped to be the new chairmen of the selection committee, but even in that case, there appears to be little chance of seeing Dhoni stage a return.