‘Pujara and Rahane can’t be there forever. There’s enormous talent in India’ | Cricket - Hindustan Times
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Pujara and Rahane ‘can’t be there forever. There’s enormous talent in India': Ganguly on Test team for South Africa tour

Dec 02, 2023 04:49 PM IST

Sourav Ganguly backed the selectors' decision to drop Pujara and Rahane from India's Test squad for the South Africa tour.

The upcoming two-match Test series in South Africa will be India's first in the Rainbow nation without either Cheteshwar Pujara or Ajikya Rahane in their squad since 2006. Both were teenagers back then, far away from international cricket. Pujara and Rahane have not missed a single trip to South Africa with the Indian side since making their respective Test debuts. Pujara has been a part of the touring Indian side to South Africa four times, starting from 2010. Rahane has played in three tours - 2013-14, 2018-19 and 2021-22.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane

This speaks a lot about their quality and longevity. India have always banked on the experience of both the right-handers in South Africa, one of the toughest places for any touring side. But things will be different when the Rohit Sharma-led side resumes their World Test Championship campaign with the Boxing Day Test at the Wanderers next month.

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India won't have either Pujara or Rahane in their XI. How big this is in the context of India's recent Test history can be determined by the following stat: India have played 100 Tests since Rahane's debut in March 2013 and in 98 of those, there was either Rahane or Pujara in India's XI. The only two matches that the two stalwarts were not a part of the XI was against Sri Lanka at home in 2022 when the selectors had decided to drop the duo together from the squad for the first time. Then Pujara was the first one to make a comeback followed by Rahane in the WTC final earlier this year.

Pujara was dropped before the West Indies series but Rahane held on to his position because of a gritty half-century in the WTC finals. But now, it appears that the selectors have finally moved on.

Former BCCI president Sourav Ganguly was asked about the selectors' decision not to include either Rahane or Pujara in the Test squad for the South Africa tour. The former India captain said no one can be there forever. Lauding both the veteran right-handers, Ganguly said they have served Indian cricket for long but it is time to move on.

"At some point of time you have to play new talents. It happens, there is enormous talent in India and the team has to progress. Pujara and Rahane had enormous success for India, sport doesn't remain with you forever," Ganguly said.

"You cannot be there forever, it will happen to everyone. I must thank them what they have done for Indian cricket and selectors want fresh faces, so that's the way it is."

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