Is This The End Of The Road For Cheteshwar Pujara & Ajinkya Rahane? Indian Cricket Stalwarts Lose BCCI Central Contracts

Is This The End Of The Road For Cheteshwar Pujara & Ajinkya Rahane? Indian Cricket Stalwarts Lose BCCI Central Contracts

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been away from the international scene after the World Test Championship 2023, where India lost to Australia in July last year.

Hrishikesh DamodarUpdated: Saturday, March 02, 2024, 03:13 PM IST
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Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane | Credits: Twitter

Veteran Indian batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahana are apparently not in the scheme of things after both were excluded from BCCI 's list of central contract for players. Pujara was the latest to lose the central contract when the board announced the new list on Wednesday, while Rahane was excluded from it in the 2022-23 list.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been away from the international scene after the World Test Championship 2023, where India lost to Australia in July last year. Rahane was the highest run-scorer for India with 135 runs while Pujara failed to deliver his best with the bat in the WTC Final against Pat Cummins-led Aussies last year.

Thereafter, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane were not picked for the Test series against West Indies, South Africa and England. Indian stalwarts went back to domestic cricket, especially Ranji Trophy 2023-24 to grind hard to make a national comeback.

However, things haven't worked in their favour despite there have been constrating performances between Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season.

Cheteshwar Pujara loses his central contract despite prolific run in Ranji Trophy

Veteran Saurashtra batter Cheteshwar Pujara was at his scintillating best in the Ranji Trophy 2023-24. The 35-year-old was knocking the doors of BCCI selectors harder with his consistent performances in India's prestigious tournament this year.

Pujara is currently the second-highest run-getter of the ongoing Ranji Trophy season, amassing 829 runs, including 3 centuries and two fifties, at an average of 69.08 across 13 innings.

With his consistent performances in Ranji Trophy 2023-24, many would have thought Cheteshwar Pujara has neared his comeback to national team. However, hopes have been dashed after the Pujara was excluded from latest list of central contract for players.

Cheteshwar Pujara was handed a Grade B contract with annual retainership of INR 3 crore in the last year's BCCI's central contract list of players. In the latest list, Pujara's name is missing. It can be assumed that the veteran Indian top-order Test batter is no longer in the scheme of things for longest format of the game.

Pujara has already fallen out of favour by BCCI selectors due to inconsistent performances in the Tests over the last few years.

Ajinkya Rahane's flop show in Ranji Trophy

After being excluded from the Test squad for the series against West Indies, South Africa and England, many would've expected Ajinkya Rahane to perform well in the Ranji Trophy to prove the selectors wrong and make a comeback to national Test team.

However, Rahane failed to live up to the expectations of his fans as he has had torrid outing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy 2023-24. The 34-year-old couldn't produce an impactful performance for Mumbai as he managed to score only 115 runs, including a fifty, at an abysmal average of 12.77 in 10 innings thus far.

Ajinkya Rahane received a retainership of INR 5 crore as per BCCI central contract list of players 2020-21. Thereafter, Rahane played the Tests for India without a central contract until he was dropped from the Test squad after WTC Final 2023.

Youngsters step up in the absence of Indian stalwarts

The absence of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane didn't have any impact on Indian team as the youngsters have started to shine in the Test arena. The likes of Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill, Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel have made their mark in Test cricket.

Jaiswal is the star performer in the ongoing Test series against England as he has scored two double centuries and a fifty in four matches. During the Ranchi Test, Yashasvi Jaiswal equalled Virat Kohli's record for the most runs in the Test series against England.

Shubman Gill has performed well in the last two Tests, while Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel shone in their debut Test series. Sarfaraz scored twin fifties in his Test debut in Rajkot and Jurel emerged as one of the star performers in India's 5-wicket win over England in Ranchi.

With youngsters stepping up in the absence of Pujara and Rahane, Indian stalwarts may not be able to break into Indian team again irrespective of how they are going to perform in the domestic cricket.

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