Finding a place in the eleven of the Indian cricket team in any format is at the moment the most challenging task than in the eleven of any other nation in the world.
Further, with the unlimited talent pool and the number of players waiting in the wings, it’s almost impossible for a cricketer to make a comeback once dropped. Hence the management have been big on giving a backing and a longer rope to any player before casting someone aside completely.
Here, we look at four Indian cricket team stars who although haven’t retired from the game, their Test careers are virtually over:
Once one of the first names on the Indian cricket team sheet, Murali Vijay played the last of his 61 Tests in 2018 on the tour of Australia and was dropped amid a horrific run. In his last four Tests he registered three ducks, including a pair at Lord’s, and a highest score of 20.
Since getting dropped from the Indian team, Vijay hasn’t really set the domestic season or the IPL on fire either; his last first-class and List-A games came in 2019, and he last featured in the IPL in 2020. The 37-year-old Vijay may as well announce his international retirement since it’s impossible for him to return to India’s squad given the number of openers already waiting for their opportunity.
Shikhar Dhawan had a blockbuster Test debut in 2013 when he hammered 187 against Australia. He would become a regular for a few years before being dropped. He made his comeback in thunderous style against Sri Lanka in 2017 but disappointing returns on the tour of South Africa and England in 2018 saw him lose his place in the indian cricket team, never to return again in the whites.
Dhawan has a staggering record in Asia in Australia, England, South Africa. He is currently out of the T20I side as well and has held his place in the ODI eleven. Dhawan’s Test career though is effectively finished.
After being dropped from the Indian cricket team Test squad for the Sri Lanka series following the South Africa tour, Wriddhiman Saha revealed to ESPNcricinfo that chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma had told him that “From now on, you will not be considered” for selection. So that’s that for the 37-year-old Saha’s Test career.
Saha has played 40 Tests in which he averages 29 with the bat and earned recognition as India’s best wicket-keeper in the past few years.
The man who played crucial roles in Indian cricket team twin series triumph in Australia, however, Cheteshwar Pujara may have played his last Test for India before he was dropped from the squad after the South Africa series. Pujara is 34 and hasn’t really done a great deal in the recent Ranji season following his axing. (Ajinkya Rahane did score a hundred though and got Chetan Sharma’s attention).
Pujara’s last Test century came in January 2019, and since the start of 2020, he averages a mediocre 26 in 20 Tests with only 8 half-centuries to his name in this period. The competition in the Indian top-order is immense while some talented batters who have been grinding big runs in domestic cricket wait in the wings; Pujara is unlikely to break back in the eleven.