Not holding back, Indian chief selector MSK Prasad asserted that if the committee 'lacked vision', then the Indian team would never have unearthed prized talents such as Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya in Test cricket.
The two star players, who started their career as T20 specialists, are now main members of the Indian Test team. The chief spoke about the duo's success, taking a chance by introducing two new young wrist spinners in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal and former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's place in the current squad.
Earlier, the selection committee was highly criticised with former captain Sunil Gavaskar leading from the front. But the chief selector hit back at his detractors for constantly demeaning his panel owing to its modest international record.
Prasad attested that if the selection committee 'lacked vision', the Indian team would never have seen white ball cricketers excel in Test cricket, citing examples of Bumrah, Pandya and Rishabh Pant.
"If this committee lacked vision, then how did Jasprit Bumrah, who is predominantly considered a white-ball bowler, has been eased into Test cricket and he becomes No.1 Test bowler in ICC rankings? If we lacked vision, how on earth did Hardik Pandya, who again was initially thought of being a T20 player, was prepared for all-round duties across formats? Well, this is also the same committee that blooded Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal when we had other established spinners (Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja) in the limited-overs team," Prasad told PTI.
"And so much for our "lack of vision", Rishabh Pant, whom nobody ever thought that could be cut out for longer formats, has been groomed and inducted into Test squad in such a short span of time. We all saw the results in England and Australia -- both with bat and behind the stumps."
Prasad did not stop there either as he lauded the progress of Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari and how India have two pacers in Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini who could bolster the Indian attack in years to come.
"Now let's come to the feeder line. See how much progress a Mayank (Agarwal) or a (Hanuma) Vihari has made. Look at our fast bowling strength. Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini are two of the fastest in India right now. If this committee lacked vision and blue-print, how are the shadow tours being planned for the senior team through India A? Are these not the results of coordinated efforts by the selection committee along with coaches Ravi Shastri and Rahul Dravid."
Dhoni was the topic of discussion throughout the 2019 World Cup as the wicket-keeper batsman who was once hailed as the greatest finisher India had ever seen, was struggling in the middle.
However, on being asked if the selectors compromised on bringing in Dhoni to sort out the middle order balance, the chief selector believes that if results had worked out in India's way in the semi-final clash against New Zealand, Dhoni and Jadeja's knocks would be hailed as one of the best ever.
"Had we won the (World Cup) semi-final (against New Zealand), especially after the collapse we had at the top of the order, then the knocks that Jadeja and MS played would have been hailed as one of the best knocks ever. I can clearly say this that till today MS is the best glovemen and finisher in India in the shorter formats. The others are still work in progress. MS was a big strength to this team in the World Cup both as a batsman and keeper, apart from sharing his vast experience with the team and captain while taking on-field decisions."
On being asked if Dhoni was allowed to pick and choose matches, Prasad clearly stated that the committee has a plan post World Cup and are looking to groom Pant so that the youngster is able to perform as per the requirements of the team.
"I have very clearly told post the selection of the Indian team against West Indies, that we have a plan post World Cup to give as many opportunities as possible to Rishabh and groom him so that he can grow in confidence and perform as per the requirements of the team.
The selection committee brought in new faces in the T20 squad for the tour of West Indies which saw Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey back in the squad along with Deepak Chahar and Washington Sundar. Rahul Chahar and Navdeep Saini have also received their maiden call-ups to the national side and the selector believes that its all about rebuilding from here on.
"Rebuilding and consolidation is a continuous process. With regards to our Test team, we have done well in our earlier Test series against Australia in Australia. We are excited and looking forward towards the World Test Championship," said Prasad.
"In shorter formats, we have inducted few youngsters based on their consistent performances at India A level and we are looking forward to seeing them consolidating their spots in the Team as they will get more number of opportunities from here on," the chief selector concluded.
(With PTI Inputs)