There were no surprises in the 15-member squad picked for the ICC Champions Trophy with no new faces making the cut. While the performances of Rishabh Pant and Kuldeep Yadav has caught everyone's attention, neither made it to the squad as the selectors went with the same set of players that played for India in the last series against England. With Mahendra Singh Dhoni assured of a place in the playing XI, it would always have been difficult for Pant to make it to the final eleven, let alone the squad. Explaining the reason behind his omission, chief selector MSK Prasad said, "We are completely impressed with Rishabh Pant. But he missed out because of squad combination. We will groom him for the future."
Ravichandran Ashwin struggled with the ball at times in the last Test series against Australia but the selectors have kept their faith on the spinner. Ashwin has not played a lot of limited overs cricket in the past one year owing to injuries but his selection in the team was not up for debate.
"Ashwin's selection was not a difficult decision. He's had rest, isn't out of form. That was our way of preparing him (Ashwin) for the Champions Trophy," added Prasad.
Talking about Yadav, who had impressed one and all in the last Test series against Australia and has done a reasonable job in the Indian Premier League (IPL) playing for Kolkata Knight Riders, Prasad was pretty clear about what the selectors thought about India's new find. "Yes, he (Kuldeep Yadav) was. Because of the quality of Kuldeep, we have considered him and not because of the form of Ashwin."
The 42-year-old further added, "When we consider for a 50 over tournament, we want to consider all round performances. IPL is a wonderful platform. From here, we will bring them (Pant, Basil Thampi, etc) into the radar and groom them."
Dhoni has not had the best of IPL Season 10 and his form with the bat might be a thing to worry about but his keeping skills are still as good as anybody else's if not better.
Prasad was full of praise when it came to Dhoni's wicket-keeping skills and termed him as the best wicket-keeper in the world.
"We all believe that he is still the best wicket-keeper in the world. He is invaluable to the team in terms of inputs. He is the best person to guide Virat. In the past 10-plus years that I have seen when he has played for India, he has never had a bad day as far as gloves are concerned. The phenomenal performance he puts in behind the wicket, nobody looks at that," Prasad concluded.