Former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra on Tuesday slammed Indian team management for their decision to drop Rishabh Pant, who a few months earlier was the team's sole wicketkeeping option over limited-overs contest replacing MS Dhoni. Nehra, in doing so, explained why the current Indian team is still far behind the legendary Australian and West Indies teams of the past.
In conversation with former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra, Nehra reckoned that the management should learn to back players for a longer time and not confuse themselves with other available options.
"This Indian team is far from the Australia team. You are talking about an Australian team which won 3 consecutive World Cups, reached in the final in 1996, won 18-19 Test matches in home and away conditions. It's not like this Indian team can not reach there but I believe the core group is very important. A person gets confused after watching many dishes on the table and so it's important to have fewer but better dishes."
Nehra then talked about Pant who was recently replaced by KL Rahul for the wicketkeeping spot following an injury he incurred during the ODI series at home against Australia. With Rahul returning with impressive performances with the gloves while also solving India's middle-order problems, the management decided to stick with the lineup hence leaving Pant on the sidelines.
"There are a lot of talented players but they should be backed for a longer duration. Today also when we talk about the number 5 and 6 slots in Indian ODI side, then we are not sure about it. KL Rahul is playing on the 5th position and Pant, the person you were preparing to succeed MS Dhoni, is serving water."
"I know he has missed his chances and there is no doubt about it but then you have kept him in the team because you saw the potential in him at 22-23 years," Nehra added.
Nehra also went on to disagree with Kohli over his statement on ODI matches being unimportant this year with the T20I World Cup just around the corner, following a series defeat against New Zealand.
"If you win and tell this it's a different thing. It's wrong to say that the year is for T20s and so we don't care about 50-over matches...if it doesn't matter then why did you even come to play. Are you trying to tell that the Indian team didn't try to win those ODI matches against New Zealand. I don't agree with Virat Kohli's statement."