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Indian team have announced their squad for their tour of South Africa in 2023/24. Surprisingly, for the two-match Test series, senior players Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara have been dropped from the squad, in this article, we will look at whether it was the right decision to drop those players (or) not.

Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane have been part of the Indian team consistently in Test cricket till the tour of South Africa which happened in 2021/22.  After seeing their dip in form with the bat, these two players were dropped from the Test setup for the two-match series against Sri Lanka in March 2022.

Cheteshwar Pujara:

Cheteshwar Pujara, after having a brilliant season with the bat in 2022 county cricket, was again called back to the Test squad for the one-off Test match against England in July 2022.

Pujara was impressive with the bat in the two-match Test series against Bangladesh by scoring 90 & 102* runs at Chattogram in December 2022, where he scored a century in Tests after three years.  Pujara, however, failed in the four-match Test series against Australia by scoring just 140 runs from six innings at an average of 28 with just one fifty.

Pujara also failed to perform with the bat in the WTC 2023 finals as he scored only 14 & 27 runs with the bat in that game, as India also lost that game badly by a margin of 209 runs.  Pujara's failure in the four-match series against Australia and the WTC 2023 Finals has ended his chance to play Tests again as India has moved on to the next set of players for the 2023-2025 WTC cycle.

Ajinkya Rahane:

Ajinkya Rahane, after playing the South Africa tour of 2021/22, never got a chance to play Test cricket afterwards until the WTC 2023 Finals. Rahane was in good form with the bat for CSK a few months back in IPL 2023 before being announced in the 2023 WTC final squad.

Rahane scored 135 runs (89 & 46) for India in the WTC 2023 finals, which was the most for the Indian team in that game. He  was then named vice-captain for the two-match Test series against West Indies in July 2023. He failed with the bat in that series by scoring just 3 runs & 8 runs in those two games.

Rahane after being announced as vice-captain of the Indian test side, suddenly gets dropped due to the return of Shreyas Iyer in the squad which looks unfair on Rahane as he didn't get the long rope to prove himself after making a comeback.