The fire and the debris of the 2023 WTC Test Final have finally settled down, and the selectors led by Rahul Dravid are faced with the vexing question of whether to ease out the old warhorses of the Indian cricket team like Ajinkya Rahane and Chateshjwar Pujara or to give them a chance to continue? The performance of Ajinkya Rahane in the WTC final was exemplary. The question of Ajinkya Rahane’s inclusion was a stop-gap arrangement precipitated by the unavailability of Shreyas Iyer.
In the past also the selectors were grappling together with the same predicament. Just before the lead to the World Cup 2011, India was faced with the same predicament- Should the old warhorses be replaced with fresh blood? The logic which the then Captain M.S. Dhoni had put forth was, a good batsman will perform sometimes, a good bowler will perform sometimes but a good and fit player as a fielder will always save runs. This logic appealed to everyone and led to the removal of the old warhorses.
The coming times are going to be crucial since the selectors have two-pronged problems on their hands. Should they continue with their old war horses or bet their money on the new greenhorns? The coming series in the Caribbean will be a test bed that will decide the fortunes of Ajinkya Rahane and Chateshwar Pujara and others who have given yeoman services to the nation.
The World Cup will start in 2025 and will the two warhorses have the capacity in them to take on the challenge or will the vagaries of time have sapped their energy just like termites that have made the arms hollow of the warriors to be of some use? However, there are precedents that expose how the veterans have proved their mettle when everyone had written them off. Dravid scored the highest when he was 37 against the U.K. when he scored three centuries in four tests. Against the formidable South African attack, Tendulkar got two hundred in three Tests
One factor which will decide the fortunes of Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer is the fact that Iyer can be accommodated in any position in the batting lineup whereas this cannot be said about Rahane.
Whatever the decision, it is not going to be an easy one. The two players have done immense service to the nation. However when it is a situation of “Do or Die” the nation comes first and the selectors must choose the best options which are beneficial to the nation.