Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane’s Time All But Over? Rohit Sharma Says, “Not Considering Them Is…”

India skipper Rohit Sharma on Wednesday hinted that the Test career of veterans Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane might not be revived as the focus has shifted to giving more opportunities to younger players. Once Virat Kohli decided to skip the first two matches against England, the possibility of including either Pujara or Rahane to the India Test squad was discussed widely but if one is aware about the thought process of current selection panel headed by Ajit Agarkar, they are not in a mood to look back.

As it turned out, India opted to bring in Rajat Patidar as Kohli’s replacement.

Rohit explained the rationale behind the decision to bring in Patidar.

“Look, actually, we did think about it (going back to a senior player). But all these younger players, when are they going to get their opportunity? That’s something we thought, I thought as well,” Rohit said during his pre-match press conference.

However, Rohit said leaving out some of the senior pros was not an easy decision to make.

Rahane’s last appearance for India was against the West Indies at Port of Spain in mid-2023, while Pujara was dropped after the World Test Championship final against Australia at the Oval last year.

“Leaving out an experienced player or not considering them is very hard. The amount of runs they’ve scored, the kind of experience they’ve had, the amount of games they have won for us, you know, it’s very hard to ignore all of that,” the skipper had all empathy for his longtime teammates.

“But, you know, you sometimes have to bring certain players into your set-up as well. You have to give them favourable conditions as you don’t want to expose them on foreign doors, where they’ve not played before. So, I think it’s important that we try and get some of these youngsters an opportunity,” said Rohit.

Rohit’s words, in fact, carried a lot of merit as well. Patidar has been in blazing form of late, cracking a 111 in two-day practice game match followed by a majestic 151 for India A against the England Lions in the first ‘unofficial Test’ at Ahmedabad.

The 30-year-old middle-order batter is also a notable performer in the domestic circuit, having played 55 matches since 2015.

He has made 4000 runs at a shade over 45 with 12 hundreds in First-Class cricket, and those numbers are certainly reward-worthy.

Perhaps, as an afterthought, Rohit added that the doors to Indian team was not closed with a final thud on anyone.

“By no means, the doors are closed for anyone, you know, as long as they stay fit and keep scoring runs. Anyone will be welcomed back into the setup,” said the Mumbaikar.

But the ensuing words clearly gave away his mindset, and by an extension how the future is going to unfold as far as the team selection is concerned.

Clearly, the age-factor of the veterans in the side, including Rohit himself, was weighing on his mind. Rohit (36), Virat Kohli (35), R. Ashwin (37), Ravindra Jadeja (35) are closer to the evening of their careers than ever before.

“Having said that, I think it’s important to look at some of the other players as well. We don’t want to end up in a place where we’ve got you know, out of 11 guys seven or eight guys who have barely played 25 Test matches between them. So, it’s important that whenever you have the opportunity, give them some game time,” said Rohit. 

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