Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have been significant pieces of India’s Test squad puzzle. India has relied on these experienced veterans in the direst situations. Pujara and Rahane knew how to rise to the occasion. Both these players have been the backbone of this Indian Test team for as long as one can remember. Their grit and determination in the overseas condition is something to take note of, especially for the young players. But with time even the tallest monuments fade away.
The test format is a platform where a player can exhibit their potential according to their own will. Patience is the key to unlocking the flaws in your opponent. If patience was easy then it wouldn’t have been considered a virtue. Both these players have mastered the ability to sustain on the pitch for as long as one can. Pujara with his 123 in Adelaide and Rahane with his 103 at Lords is a peep through a small hole of the heroics they have managed to pull throughout their career. But clouds of uncertainty have gathered around their career.
The fall of Pujara and Rahane?
The calibre which these players possess the expectations of fans starts to increase with time. However, to have expectations and to fulfil them are two different things. Pujara and Rahane have failed to live up to the rising expectations of these fans. Since 2018 both of them have failed to live up to their reputation. Cheteshwar Pujara in 2020 struck rock bottom with his lowest average (27.49) in a decade. For Ajinkya Rahane his overseas record is unable to secure his spot in the playing eleven.
The term form is temporary and class is permanent is not applicable in modern-day cricket. There is no scope of error with a team like India which possess a vast amount of talent. The additional pressure of being dropped for the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari and Surya Kumar Yadav could have influenced their performance. In the end with the number of chances that lay in front of them, Pujara and Rahane failed to capitalize them to their fullest.
The series against South Africa possibly added the final nail in their coffin. In order to live to see another day on the field Pujara and Rahane needed to pull off something extraordinary. But that moment just didn’t arrive for them. It wasn’t a surprise for fans to see their names missing from the test squad in the series against Sri Lanka. Recent comments made by former batsman Gautam Gambhir add to these growing speculations.
Ranji Trophy is a chance for them to regain that lost form. The lost reputation and trust can be regained if both of them manage to pull off a string of high scoring performances. If Pujara and Rahane produce results like 8(6) and 0(3) respectively once more in Ranji cricket their hopes of making a way playing eleven will end.