New Delhi, Feb 11: India's chairman of selectors MSK Prasad has stressed that Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar and Ajinkya Rahane are still in the contention for the much elusive ICC World Cup 2019 World Cup squad.
In an interview with ESPN Cricinfo, Prasad stated that there are still some spots up for grabs in the Team India for the World Cup, scheduled to be held in England and Wales in the summer.
He added that young Pant, who has played just 3 ODIs for India but has done reasonably well in the T20Is as well as Tests, is a healthy headache for the selectors.
"Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention," Prasad said. "A healthy headache. The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is the reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible."
India batting all-rounder Vijay Shankar @vijayshankar260 says he learnt a lot watching @imVkohli , @msdhoni and @ImRo45 construct their innings during India's tour of New Zealand and Australia #NZvIND #Cricket #TeamIndia pic.twitter.com/U6bmGcxncQ— myKhel.com (@mykhelcom) February 11, 2019
In the recently concluded three-match T20I series in New Zealand, Pant scored a 40 not out and a 12-ball 28 in successive matches. Since only on his knock came in a winning cause to the side he couldn't completely live up to the reputation batting higher in the order and had a good chance to make a statement in white-ball cricket. But selectors still believe the 21-year-old Delhi cricketer could be a good batting option in WC.
Vijay Shankar was one of the positives for India from the T20I series against the Kiwis. The Tamil Nadu all-rounder might just have edged Ravindra Jadeja in the race. Prasad agreed that Vijay would be the fourth allrounder in the pool of 20 players the selectors have drawn up to then pick the final 15.
"In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skillsets required at this level. We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team."
The all-rounder had a decent outing getting scores of 27, 14 and 43 at a series strike rate of 155. However, none of his bigger knocks came in a winning cause but he showed his prowess with the bat. It has indeed given the team management another option for the future. However, Shankar did not get too many chances to bowl in the series, even while someone like Hardik Pandya or Yuzvendra Chahal were leaking runs.
Speaking about Ajinkya Rahane's chances of earning a call-up in the white-ball format, Prasad said the Mumbaikar is very much in contention.
"In domestic cricket, he has been in form. He is very much in contention for the World Cup," Prasad added further.