In the aftermath of an embarrassing 1-2 Test series loss in South Africa, talks of heads rolling in the Indian team have begun and at the top of the list are Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara, both of whom failed to score big runs and Ajit Agarkar feels that India has players to replace them in the Test team.
The former India pacer was critical of the duo’s batting as India lost the third and decisive Test match against South Africa in Cape Town by 7 wickets and lost the series in the process despite winning the first Test in Centurion. Virat Kohli, in his post-match presser, said that batting failure was the main reason for the loss, while bowlers did their job.
Out of the batters that failed, Pujara and Rahane stick out like sore thumbs, given that they averaged 22.66 and 20.66 with the bat respectively in the three-match series and did not look too comfortable in the middle. And apart from one half-century each in the series, there weren’t any significant contributions from either of the two.
There Are Tough Decisions To Be Made On Both Cheteshwar Pujara And Ajinkya Rahane: Ajit Agarkar
Rahane and Pujara have both endured long barren runs, could not deliver the goods with the bat in the just-concluded Test series against South Africa as well. Pujara has not scored a Test century since 2019, while Rahane has managed just one, which came in Melbourne in 2020.
During a discussion on Star Sports, Ajit Agarkar opined on the future of the two batters and said: “There is no doubt that there is scrutiny on Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane and there has to be a discussion about that because you have players who can take their places. Certainly, there are tough decisions to be made, not only about Pujara or only about Rahane, but regarding both of them.”
He further added that it’s not like there are no players to replace them. Agarkar counted the likes of Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, and Shubman Gill, who can readily replace the veterans in the middle order.
“You have two players – Shreyas Iyer played a good Test in Kanpur and I don’t think Vihari has done anything wrong whenever he has played Test cricket. You have Shubman Gill as well, so you have options,” he added.
Ajinkya Rahane And Cheteshwar Pujara Have Been Fighting For Their Places For Far Too Long: Ajit Agarkar
Agarkar also pointed out that these two needed to be replaced just because India lost the Test series in South Africa, but mentioned that Rahane and Pujara have been fighting for their places for far too long.
He said: “It is not that you are doing this just because you have lost. We are seeing with both these players for quite some time that every time they go out to bat, we say they are under pressure, or it might be their most important innings, or their last innings in Test cricket and the way they are batting.”
“You will have to decide what is best for your team. You will have to take those decisions and those decisions cannot be emotional, whether that player has played 150 Tests or five Tests. If a player is not taking the team forward, maybe those are the decisions you have to take,” he added.
India’s next Test assignment will be at home when Sri Lanka visits for a two-match series.