A BCCI official tells mid-day Ajinkya’s abilities were never in doubt, and that Cheteshwar is still in their plans
Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara
That the selectors are never in any doubt over Ajinkya Rahane’s batting and leadership qualities was underlined on Friday when they appointed him vice-captain of the Indian team that will play a two-Test series in the West Indies next month. Rohit Sharma’s ODI team will play a three-match series against the 1975 and 1979 World Cup winners followed by a five-match T20I series, for which the squad will be announced later.
Ajinkya Rahane, the captain when India beat Australia to win the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy Down Under, was recalled to the side for the recent ICC World Test Championship final at The Oval. He vindicated the selectors’ decision by scoring 89 and 46 in the Test which India lost by 209 runs.
Cheteshwar Pujara after being dismissed at the WTC final against Oz at The Oval recently
“We never had doubts over his leadership and batting qualities. Whenever he was given the responsibility of leading the team, he came up with results. Who can forget the memorable victory over Australia in 2021. Rahane led the side very sensibly and we won the series. We have no doubt that he’ll contribute and give his all as vice-captain. He was out of the team because of poor form, but in the recent IPL he showed his class and earned back his place in the Indian team,” said a BCCI official on Friday.
Rahane had no clue
It is learnt that Mumbai-based Rahane had no clue about plans to make him vice-captain for the Caribbean series. He returned to the city a few days ago after a brief holiday post the WTC final in London. About the decision to include Rahane in the WTC squad, which was his comeback, the official said: “Not only the selectors, skipper Rohit was also interested in including Ajinkya in the WTC squad. Rohit said he needed a responsible batsman at No.5, and with the form he had displayed in the season, the only choice in front of us was Ajinkya,” the official added. Meanwhile, Cheteshwar Pujara’s exclusion from the Test series against the West Indies doesn’t mean his career is over.
India’s Ajinkya Rahane during the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia at The Oval recently. Pics/Getty Images
Pujara looked off-colour
“He [Pujara] is a crucial part of our team. But like Rahane was, he is off-colour and needs a break. We have tried to give an opportunity to some new faces. It doesn’t mean the door is closed for Pujara. He will definitely be part of the squad in the near future. Shubman Gill and Pujara batted irresponsibly and that was the major reason why India could not put up a big total on the board in the WTC final,” said a source.