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End of Test career for Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane? Who are their replacements?

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane

Johannesburg, January 3: Duanne Olivier dismissed out-of-form batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane off successive balls to leave India reeling at 53 for 3 at lunch against South Africa on the opening day of the second Test, at the Wanderers on Monday (January 3).

It has also raised a lot of questions about their career as Test players as well. Olivier removed Pujara (3 off 33 balls) with extra bounce and then with slight seam movement had Rahane (0) caught at slips off the very next ball.

Pujara was in a shell and was very uncomfortable against steep bounce which finally became his undoing. Olivier's natural back-of-the-length deliveries were perfect recipe for disaster as he fended one that was wide of short leg fielder but the next one lobbed up to point fielder Temba Bavuma for an easy catch.

Rahane's dismissal was that of a player, whose confidence has been torn to pieces. The ball pitched on fourth stump channel with a shade cut-back that creates indecision on whether to play or not.

Rahane dangled his bat and the catch was taken in the slips by Keegan Petersen.

So it really an end to the Test career of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.

Pujara’s Test low

Pujara has so far played 93 Tests and made 6605 runs at 44.32 with 18 hundreds and 31 fifties. His last hundred was in January 2019 against Australia, 193 at Sydney and his last big innings was a 91 against England at Leeds earlier this year. Since that Sydney century, Pujara played 45 Test innings and made 11 fifties. And he might lose his spot to Virat Kohli if the latter is fit and ready for the third Test against the Proteas.

Who can replace Pujara in the long-term

At No 3, KL Rahul can walk in for him assuming that Rohit Sharma will be fit for the series against Sri Lanka and open along with Mayank Agarwal.

Rahane’s Test low

Rahane has played 80 Tests so far making 4863 runs at 39.21 with 12 hundreds and 24 fifties. His last hundred was that memorable ton at Melbourne against Australia that helped India score a fine win after getting bundled out for 36 at Adelaide. But before and after that innings Rahane has struggled to get runs for a year period and he might even lose his spot to Shreyas Iyer for the 3rd Test against South Africa at Cape Town next week.

Who can replace Rahane in the long-term

Shreyas Iyer. He made a fine debut for India in the series against New Zealand, cracking a debut hundred at Kanpur. He has this weakness against short ball but it is nothing that he cannot work out and rectify.

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Story first published: Monday, January 3, 2022, 16:56 [IST]
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