One of the biggest talking points in Indian cricket revolves around the future of Test stalwarts Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane. The duo has been a regular presence in India’s Test eleven but they have been plagued by inconsistent performances especially Rahane resulting in demands the selectors move on and put faith in youngsters now.
The latest setback was the South Africa tour where India lost the Test series 1-2. Both Pujara and Rahane managed a fifty each across six innings as the tourists suffered regular batting collapses, especially in the middle-order leading to below-par performances.
Former international cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, in an exclusive chat with News18 has said that if he was an India selector, Rahane would have been out of his plans two years ago but he feels Pujara still has something to offer.
“If I am saying that it is Rahane’s last match (3rd Test vs South Africa in Cape Town), people should not wonder why I am saying that. I am sure you say the same thing privately, and the others. It’s not about runs but also how someone looks in the field. It’s from 2017 that Ajinkya Rahane somewhere has shown that he is a little unsure,” Manjrekar said.
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“You can see it in the way he bats, the way he gets out. That’s another thing that gives an indication about a player’s game. For example, Virat Kohli is not getting a hundred but he is still putting out 70s and there is great value in having Virat Kohli before he discovers form. So Rahane for me is clearly somebody that has a shelf life that is over,” he added.
Manjrekar says that by giving more chances to under-performing seniors, the youngsters are being denied opportunities to prove themselves.
And the other thing is when you see senior players, you are cutting the rope for younger players. Javagal Srinath in his prime was sitting out of the playing XI because the selectors were giving a longer rope to some senior players. It’s also important that selectors have to keep everyone in Indian cricket who is in contention in mind. So I’ll be surprised if Ajinkya Rahane gets picked for obvious reasons; selectors should look at someone beyond him,” Manrekar observed.
Pujara has now represented India in 95 Tests and Manjrekar feels that the milestone of 100 matches could see him get a few more matches.
“Pujara is interesting, he’s coming close to 100 Test matches. It will need a very unemotional selector to leave him out. And I personally have more time for Pujara than Rahane. This is from observing the way they bat. No other reason. I feel there is something left in Pujara, but Rahane, if I would have been the selector, would have been out of my plans two years back,” he said.