Despite having dropped him from the 14-man squad selected for the first two ODIs against West Indies, chief selector MSK Prasad has cleared that the wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik is by no means out from India's limited overs set-up and is still a part of the plans for next year's World Cup.
The selection committee decided to bring in Rishabh Pant into the team as a specialist middle-order batsman and second wicket-keeper, alongside Mahendra Singh Dhoni, after his brilliant exploits in the ongoing Test series. Pant can add a lot of depth to India's batting and hence, he is capturing everyone's imagination.
"Yes, definitely (Pant has been picked as a specialist batsman in the squad, as of now) but if the need arises he will be the backup keeper," MSK Prasad was quoted saying, "It is no brainer who is our No 1 wicketkeeper. In search of second wicketkeeper, we have given opportunities to DK and right now we are giving an opportunity to Rishabh Pant. At an appropriate time, we will take a call as to who is the best among the two."
It was quite a surprising selection but Prasad justified drafting Mohammad Shami, who last played an ODI game in September 2017, back into the one-day side by saying, "I have been telling this for a quite some time that we are just 18 ODIs away from now before we play first game of the World Cup and so we need to figure out our fast bowlers and in this process, we have picked Shami."
While India's premier limited overs fast bowlers - Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah - have been rested for the first two matches, Indian Captain Virat Kohli returns to the coloured clothing after being away from the team that played the Asia Cup in UAE, due to the workload management.
The chairman of selectors also said that Dhoni will be featuring for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy knock-out phase and also gave a couple of injury updates on Hardik Pandya, who will continue to be unavailable till the second week of November owing to the acute lower back injury.
"He (Dhoni) will play the knock-outs. About Ambati Rayudu, I need to confirm," said Prasad and further added, "Well, it is a workload management program going on and it all depends on his recovery from the injury he has now. At an appropriate time, we can answer as and when he recovers from injury."
It is learnt that Kedar Jadhav, having suffered a hamstring niggle in the final of the Asia Cup, is recovering quickly and could well be selected for the last three ODIs of the series.
Prasad also rubbished the recently spread rumour that split captaincy across formats could be the way forward for Indian Cricket.
He said, "Well, I would like to tell in 2015, Virat took over Test captaincy and subsequently in 2017, he took over ODI captaincy. He has excelled in all formats, led from the front and India are No 1 side in all formats (only in Tests)," adding, "We want all 15 players to think as leaders and we will be an unbeatable team. Rohit and Ajinkya (Rahane) has done well in that aspect but we want others to think like leaders and rise to the occasion," and signed off.
India Squad (first two ODIs): Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wicket-keeper),Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Khaleel Ahmed, Shardul Thakur, KL Rahul.
(Inputs from PTI)