Rahane would be out of my plans if I was selector but there's something left in Pujara, says Sanjay Manjrekar

India’s Test specialists Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have come under immense scrutiny after their recent disappointing series against South Africa in the Rainbow Nation, where both of them managed just one half-century across the six innings.

Former India cricketer and current commentator Sanjay Manjrekar feels that if he were a selector, Rahane would have been out of his plans a couple of years ago, but felt that there was ‘something left’ in Pujara.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are not the only villains of India's Test series defeat to South Africa. AFP

File image of Pujara and Rahane. AFP

“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," Manjrekar was quoted as saying by News18.

“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," the 56-year-old added.

The former Mumbai cricketer went onto say that Rahane’s ‘shelf life’ was over.

“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”.

Manjrekar continued, by saying that the BCCI selectors should look beyond Rahane, adding the fact that youngsters were not being given enough opportunities.

“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," Manjrekar observed.

India recently lost the Test series against Proteas 1-2, and part of the reason for that defeat is an inconsistent middle-order. Both Rahane and Pujara have been regulars in the Test setup for years now, but it remains to be seen if the selectors move on from them and put some trust in youngsters now.

‘Only deserving captaincy candidate in all three forms is Rohit Sharma’: Manjrekar

Sanjay Manjrekar also gave his opinion on India’s potential captain in Test cricket, adding that Rohit Sharma would be the most deserving candidate to lead India in Tests as well after his performance against England in the UK in August last year.

Rohit Sharma aggregated 368 runs from four matches at an average of 52.57 against England.

Virat Kohli quit as India Test captain a day after their Test series loss to South Africa recently.

Rohit, meanwhile, took over as limited-overs skipper after the T20 World Cup last year, but a hamstring injury left him out of the South Africa Tests and the ODIs that followed. KL Rahul was India’s stand-in skipper, but the Men in Blue suffered a 0-3 series clean sweep.

“If Ajinkya Rahane was getting runs, he would have been the obvious choice after Virat Kohli. Rahane has been very good on the field. He has a great record whenever he has captained. Virat Kohli left Australia after India got out for 36. The next Test match was captained by Rahane and won and India went on to win the series. He’s got an excellent record, but you can’t have somebody for captaincy when he’s a liability is as a player. So he goes out; the only deserving candidate in all three forms is Rohit Sharma,” Manjrekar said before stating the reasons.

“He is pretty good in T20s. We have seen in the IPL, naturally. In one-dayers, he has captained on occasions, looks the part, and Test matches, after that performance in England, is the most deserving candidate. “

Manjrekar, however, said selectors shouldn't look too far ahead and be in the present.

“Let’s look at one year; there’s no comfortable choice India has. All the other choices have a lot of issues around. A couple of Test matches in one year. There’s got to be a lot of T20 cricket and ODIs. So take one year at a time and appoint somebody who is most deserving, and if there is some issue then you start looking at another leader. Let’s not pre-empt, because I don’t think there are other exciting options at the moment. Maybe after a year or two, you might find someone,” he added.

Updated Date: January 26, 2022 17:27:06 IST

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