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"We Failed to Encash on Key Moments," - MSK Prasad Reviews India's 4-1 Loss to England

Cricketnext Staff | Updated: September 16, 2018, 1:11 PM IST

(AFP PHOTO)

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India's tour to England ended with the visitors showing plenty of promise, but the scoreline at the end of the day still showed them going down 4-1 in the five-Test series. While a whole lot of post-mortem is still being done, MSK Prasad, the chief selector, has pointed out that the batting unit needed tightening up before India's next overseas tour.

"We need to consolidate our batting department," said MSK Prasad in an interview with Times of India.

"We should ensure our batsmen get enough preparation time before heading into an important series. We are trying to find ways where our Test specialists will be going early and get enough match practise to get acclimatised to conditions."

India had opportunities aplenty during the five Tests to shut the door on England, but they squandered chances at crucial times. The pace bowling unit, which generally has been India's thorn in the flesh, especially on overseas tours, came good. They managed to pick up 60-plus wickets in the Test series and had the Englishmen is all sorts of strife with the new as well as the old ball.

However, failing to dismiss England's lower order on a number of occasions, coupled with the batting unit, barring Virat Kohli, faltering in crucial times ultimately brought India's downfall.
"The results don't reveal how intensely this series was fought but we all know the same results could have been in our favour too," said Prasad on his review of India's England tour. "We had our moments in the series which we should have encashed on.

"There are positives. I feel our fast bowling unit has done a fantastic job. Picking 60-plus wickets in five Tests was testimony to their skill-set and a result of the fitness regimens and workload management we are following. I am extremely happy the way we fielded and took catches. But batting as a unit has to come to the fore.

"We also need to find solutions for picking those last few wickets. It essentially cost us the series."

The openers, Shikhar Dhawan, M Vijay and KL Rahul - except for the last Test at Oval - had a tough time on tour with Vijay ultimately losing his spot after the third game. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane had a few decent hits in the middle but being the 'Test specialists' ought to have been much more consistent.

Prasad said that players with designated roles should be given a fair chance, but if they don't perform they should be prepared to make way for the youngsters.

"Yes, our openers could have done better. Having said that, the England openers also failed miserably," noted Prasad. "The conditions were tough and the openers of both the teams failed. Over the last few years, Pujara and Rahane have done well in those No. 3 & No. 5 slots. They have enough experience behind them to be the mainstay of our middle order. They did well here too but they could have been a bit more consistent.

"When we pick players for particular slots, they should be given enough opportunities before we move on and look at youngsters. After giving enough opportunities, if the players don't deliver then in all fairness we need to look at youngsters who are doing well on the domestic cricket circuit and for India 'A'."

While most players with consistent performances in the domestic circuit such as Prithvi Shaw, Hanuma Vihari and Deepak Chahar, have been rewarded with an India call-up, Mayank Agarwal despite racking up huge numbers continues being ignored. Prasad though insisted that Agarwal was in the selector's radar and his time will soon come.

"Mayank Agarwal has been doing outstandingly well in the past 10 months or so," said Prasad. "You should also know that we have identified potential in Mayank and requested the head coach and assistant coach of Karnataka at the beginning of the season to give him ample opportunities this season. We have been keeping track of him for some time. He has done well and will get his due soon."

Injuries to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin have also become huge talking points of late. Prasad emphatically refuted any such claims that their injuries were mismanaged by the Board of Control for Cricket in India insisting there was proper communication all the way through.

"We keep getting the fitness reports of all contracted players undergoing rehabilitation in NCA on a regular basis. There is absolutely no confusion whatsoever. Patrick (Farhart, the physio) keeps me and my colleagues updated on the fitness status of every contracted player," said Prasad.

"It was pure speculation that the selectors were not informed about Saha's fitness issues. Let me clarify that we are well informed about Saha's fitness status. In fact, apart from the information we get from Patrick, the performance statistics and fitness reports of all contracted and India 'A' players are tabled by our operations team in the selection committee meetings.
First Published: September 16, 2018, 1:11 PM IST
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