On Sunday, the Indian selection committee headed by MSK Prasad announce the official squads for Team India’s tour of the West Indies, which comprises of 3 T20Is, as many ODIs and two Test under the leadership of Virat Kohli. During the press conference, Prasad received a lot of questions about the former Indian middle-order batsman, Ambati Rayudu and exactly why did he not get the opportunity to represent his nation in the ICC World Cup 2019.
Prasad tried to clarify that the selection committee was unhappy with Rayudu but went on to say that it was only rational to pick cricketers like Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant and Mayank Agarwal ahead of the experienced number-four batsman. He explained, “When we pick any player and he does well, we feel so happy for him. Similarly when somebody who goes out in this way, the selection committee also feels for it. But having said that, with regards to the decision taken, it has been completely devoid of any bias or any favoritism into why we have picked Vijay Shankar, Rishabh Pant or Mayank Agarwal.”
If the BCCI official is to be believed, the calls for Pant and Mayank were purely out of the need of the hour. With Shikhar Dhawan being ruled out, the team was in need of a left-handed batsman to play in the upper half of the Indian batting lineup and Mayank Agarwal was a backup opener for KL Rahul.
Describing the same, the chief selector explained, “When Rayudu was picked, on the basis of 17-18 T20s (2018 IPL performance), we picked him in ODI side. There was a lot of criticism but we had some thoughts about him subsequently. When he failed the fitness (Yo YO) test (before England away ODIs), this selection committee backed him and we put him through a fitness program for a month, ensured that he gets fit and comes into the side.”
Prasad expressed in such a way that the team was backing Rayudu despite him being unfit as he was later included in the team for the Asia Cup. However, yet another BCCI official decided to challenge Prasad’s statement about Rayudu’s fitness.
As per the quotes in IANS, a BCCI official said, “Who decided on the fitness criteria and has there been an official communication on the same? If there were no criteria officially communicated or discussed or approved by the board, how could one fail it? Seems that the selector didn’t really check all the dimensions before making this statement.”
While the World Cup snub might still be a healing wound for the Hyderabadi cricketer, Prasad’s vague statements demeaning Rayudu’s fitness definitely feels like rubbing salt on it.