Mumbai: Chairman of selectors MSK Prasad on Tuesday indicated that Wriddhiman Saha will regain his rightful place in the Indian Test for upcoming matches as he was out owing to injury and the Irani Cup game was not his trial but a case of testing his fitness.
"We had made it clear that someone who is coming back from injury, had to play in a domestic game and this was the best opportunity. Right now Saha and Parthiv are the best Nos 1 and 2 that we have. It was only to test fitness that we had Saha play here."
While Parthiv had a good comeback in Tests with two half-centuries followed by Ranji Trophy winning hundred against Mumbai, Wriddhiman played one of the best knocks in Irani Trophy history as his 203 not out enabled the Rest of India to chase down a near 400-run total on Tuesday.
"Personally, I can say that Wriddiman Saha was out of the team because of injury and not because he was out of form. He was 'Man of the Match' in the Kolkata Test against New Zealand and got a hundred in West Indies," said Prasad.
"I am happy how Parthiv has responded to the call-up. He is a fighter to the core. He single-handedly brought Gujarat from nowhere to being the Ranji Champions. He is in our scheme of things. There is just a minor difference between the two. When it comes to Test cricket, it is always the man who keeps better who gets the nod," Prasad gave ample hint about what the selectors' decision will be.
Prasad felt the glove work of Parthiv has also improved considerably but Wriddhiman still has better hands.
"Parthiv's glovework has definitely improved. But Saha has got better hands and that's where he scores little more points than Parthiv. With today's batting, Saha showed why he is the number one keeper-batsman in the country. When he came out to bat yesterday the team was struggling at 63-4, and to take the game away from Gujarat, is phenomenal. So it’s a healthy competition between the two."
Prasad was also full of praise for the roles played by senior pros, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, in the 2-1 series win in the ODI series against England, while saying it was too early to say whether they will be part of India's campaign in the 2019 World Cup in England.
"It's not just about the series win, it wasn't an easy win and we had to fight hard. This tournament has thrown us some wonderful opportunities and some of the calls that we as selectors took have worked well. Like Yuvraj and Kedar (Jadhav) coming in and Mahi (Dhoni) getting back among runs. So these are wonderful things, apart from winning that we had."
Yuvraj cracked a blistering 150 while Dhoni, who stepped down as ODI captain to pave the way for Virat Kohli's ascension to the throne in all three formats, blasted 134 to help India recover from 25 for three and post an imposing 381 for six in the second game at Cuttack that the hosts went on to win by 15 runs to clinch the series.
"It is premature to talk about Dhoni and Yuvi being part of the 2019 WC. We can't talk about something that is 800 or more days away from now," the chief selector quipped.
"As of now MSD is the best keeper batsman batsman in the world. He is an invaluable asset. If the situation arose Mahi knows what to do. I don't think that situation will arise in the coming few months or a year's time," he added, referring to the chances of Dhoni quitting the game altogether.
Prasad said he was a bit concerned about the middle order during India's 3-2 victory over New Zealand prompting the selectors to recall Yuvraj Singh after a lengthy absence of nearly four years from the 50-over game, but insisted it was not a gamble.
"All said and done we were a bit worried about the middle-order during the New Zealand ODI series. Now I am more confident, the way Kedar played and Yuvraj did. With the likes of (Ajinkya) Rahane, Manish (Pandey) and (Ambati) Rayudu in the reserves shows the kind of bench strength we have. I am absolutely confident now," he said.
"Yuvraj was definitely not a gamble. The five selectors earlier, and three now, had seen him do exceptionally well in the domestic circuit. Some one who can get a 260 and a 180 shows the ability and the hunger he has. I had no doubts that he is working hard to make a comeback. What else can a batsman do and with his ability," he wondered.
"There are no two ways about ability. The day he is fit, his abilities are there. Look how he played under pressure during the second ODI. The most important is country's interest. Heading towards a big event (Champions Trophy in June in England), you need a middle order which can finish off the game. The team that can gives the best possible result for the country is of paramount importance," Prasad said.
"As far as Pandey and Rayudu are concerned they will have to wait for their opportunities. See Karun Nair got it and he maximised it three folds (triple ton in the fifth and final Test against England at Chennai). End of the day, a healthy bench strength augurs well for Indian cricket," he added.
On the opening slot, Prasad was confident that things would fall in place once Rohit Sharma regains his place after recovering from his injury and moreover for others there's IPL and the domestic T20 games to get into form.
"As far as the opening slots are concerned, we all know that Rohit is injured and its just a matter of time before he comes back. I know it would have helped the rest to get some runs under the belt but I am not overtly worried because we have domestic limited over cricket and then the big event like IPL coming.
"So all the boys will have minimum 15-16 matches before they head to the Champions Trophy. These openers will get a chance to open for state and the franchisee and will definitely come back strong."
On the decision to rest main Test spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from the T20 series against England, Prasad reasoned that with no big T20 event coming up, this was the best thing to do.
"We have nothing big coming up in T20 and that why we decided to rest Ashwin and Jadeja.
Praising Jadhav for the two gems he has played in the ODI series, Prasad said he had seen him enjoy playing the finisher's role.
"Kedar Jadhav is a little dynamite. I saw him play a Ranji game at Lahli, Andhra vs Maharashtra (2014-15 Quarters). It was a seaming track and they were some for 40-6 and this guy scored some 80-odd and won the game for Maharashtra.
"Somehow, like Virat (Kohli), he enjoys chasing and enjoys finisher’s role. During one of the recent India A tours to Australia he played that role. Even in Zimbabwe he did well and I'm happy for him."
Parvez Rasool has replaced Ashwin in the T20 team and Prasad hailed the J and K player and compared him with Jayant Yadav, who played a significant role in the Test series win over England.
"Rasool has been superb in the shorter form of the game as you can see from his stats. He is actually a good all-rounder just like Jayant Yadav."
Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 18:04:09 IST