BCCI Central Contracts: Diminutive Rishabh Pant has grown immensely in stature and is the biggest probability to join A+ bracket along with Team India captain Virat Kohli, ODI vice captain Rohit Sharma and bowling spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in next year’s BCCI’s Annual Players Retainership contract, feels former India wicketkeeper batsman and ex chief selector MSK Prasad. Insidesport.co spoke to MSK in great details about the Indian team composition, BCCI annual players contract, who might have missed out and who can make it the next year. These are the excerpt from an exclusive interview :
Q 1) Are you surprised to see a few names not making the cut and few others not getting the top salary in the BCCI’s annual players contract this time?
MSK: I fully standby BCCI’s annual player retainership contract 2020-21 and I am not surprised by any account. I feel Rishabh Pant can reach the highest bracket next year. This year probably he did not make the highest cut because he might not have fulfilled certain criteria. Even Ravindra Jadeja and Md Shami could have been in A+ but they also did not meet the required criteria. But yes, I will be surprised if Rishabh doesn’t make it next year, considering the great form he is in and the big contribution he is making for the team in all formats of the game. He is a player for all seasons and he is looking more dangerous than ever before. Shammi and jadeja also need to play more cricket and contribute more consistently, No doubt player wise they are A+.
Q 2) Who do you think came close to making the cut and missed out on a player’s contract this time?
MSK: There are many youngsters who might make the cut but for that they have to first get selected and play for India. Two names that come to my mind are: T Natarjan and Rahul Chahar. Natarjan is a great story coming out from a humble background who has impressed one and all by his ability to bowl in death overs. He is being called Yorker Natarajan bowling 62 yorkers last season speaks volumes about his end game bowling ability in the shorter format of the game. He is a wonderful talent and should make the grade. Rahul Chahar is another bowler who should make the cut. I am very impressed with his style of bowling. He can make a big impact in the shorter format of the game with his ability to bowl differently with his ability to spin the ball, the kind of revolution he gets and with great speed are rare qualities that can make him a very dangerous bowler. His googly and flippers are wonderful. He can use this opportunity of playing as Mumbai Indians main spinner. If he gets the required confidence he can surely translate in the bigger form of cricket and find a place in Test cricket someday.
Q 3) How do you see Mayank Agarwal’s future for Team India with youngsters like Shubman Gill and Prithvi Shaw being preferred by selectors as opening partner for Rohit Sharma? He is also not having a great time in the ongoing IPL season, do you think its crunch time for him to perform or perish?
MSK: Well I think he is an enormously gifted player. Tell me what wrong has he done? He has scored 100s and 200 for Indian team in Test cricket. I think another season or two can be given to him. He can remain in the team as back up opening batsman just like Murali Vijay remained for a very long time. Remaining in the team as back up player is no shame. You are still a part of Team India. I will give him at least two more seasons considering the talent and contribution he has made for Team India and in domestic cricket. I wouldn’t be in a hurry to write him off so easily.
Q 4) Players who have impressed you in the ongoing IPL and who you think can play for India in the T20 World Cup?
MSK: Indian team has already too many top grade and talented players. It’s very difficult to break into that league. Its early days in IPL and IPL performances cannot be the sole criteria to get an India call.
The three players who are in the probable list for the T20 World Cup are Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju samson and Ishan Kishan. Nistish Rana will have to wait. Its still very days for him… He has played well in the first IPL matches and leading the run aggregates but it’s early days. Everyone knows about Sanju Samson and his batting prowess. The century against Punjab Kings was a delight to see. Suryakumar Yadav has already established himself as a great talent. A delight to watch. Ishan Kishan is another player for future with his bat swing and attacking style.
Q 5) Two rounds of IPL matches are over, 12 more rounds remain. how has been your early impression and what can be expected?
MSK: It has been an interesting beginning with all teams looking equally strong. Great to see RCB doing well. Virat Kohli and his team doing well are certainly good news for Indian cricket. All matches have been exciting except the last match. The pitch was difficult to bat on, It was the lack of application of the team batting first rather than any devil in the pitch. T20 cricket is where one has to adopt and apply fast. Team doing that will emerge victorious once again.