Chief selector of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) MSK Prasad on Sunday praised Indian wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni's recent performances in the ongoing Sri Lankan series. A former wicket-keeper himself, Prasad called Dhoni the 'No. 1 wicketkeeper in the world'. He also said that Dhoni has been guaranteed a spot in the 2019 World Cup.
He also praised Dhoni's incredible work behind the stumps.
Prasad's remarks have come four months after he declared Dhoni wasn't an automatic selection anymore.
However, in hailing Dhoni's near-indispensability, the selector also acknowledged India's lack of success in unearthing a suitable wicket-keeping alternative.
According to media reports, the selection committee, comprising Prasad, Sarandeep Singh and Devang Gandhi, has been given a temporary extension until BCCI's next Annual General Meeting. A selector's contract is renewed annually and his tenure runs for a maximum of four years.
Prasad, who first became a selector in Sandeep Patil's committee in November 2015, before taking over as chairman last year, can technically remain a selector till 2019 if he is granted an extension.
It is not that the selectors have not looked at other options, but they have hardly been given a run at the international level.
Rishabh Pant was seen once as the possible successor of Dhoni. He was picked for the limited-overs tour of West Indies. But unfortunately, he had a poor series. His poor form continued against South Africa A and New Zealand A as well.
Meanwhile, Dinesh Karthik, the other likely contender, has been picked for India in the limited-overs cricket. However, the selectors look at him solely as a middle-order batsman.
While Prasad didn't name anyone in particular, he mentioned none of the emerging wicket-keepers had met the standards required of playing at the highest level. However, he said the selection committee would continue to try different options in India A tours to ensure they identify suitable talents.
Prasad said, "We are grooming some wicket-keepers in India A tours. More or less we have fixed up [our] mind till the World Cup. After that, we will start grooming some of those wicketkeepers in India A tours."
"Let me tell you frankly that there are still those boys, who haven't performed up to the levels we had expected. We will still keep giving them chances in the India A tours and see that they are nurtured," added Prasad.
(With Agency Inputs)