A day after India`s squad for West Indies was announced, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar lashed out at the national selectors for making Cheteshwar Pujara the `scapegoat` and ignoring prolific domestic scorer Sarfaraz Khan for the two Tests in the Caribbean Islands next month.
An unhappy Gavaskar questioned the logic behind having the Ranji Trophy if performance in the country`s premier domestic tournament is not looked into while picking the Indian red-ball teams instead of taking into account the players` record in the IPL.
“Sarfaraz Khan has been scoring at an average of 100 in all past three seasons. What does he have to do to be picked in the squad? He might not be in the XI, but you pick him in the team. Tell him that his performances are being recognized. Otherwise, stop playing Ranji Trophy. Say, it`s of no use, you just play IPL and think you are good enough for the red-ball game as well,” Gavaskar said.
Sarfaraz`s three centuries have helped him amass 556 runs in six games at an average of 92.66 in the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy. The 25-year-old right-handed batter had scored 982 runs at an average of 122.75 in the 2021-22 Ranji season, including four centuries. Overall, Sarfaraz has scored 3,505 runs in 37 first-class matches at an average of 79.65, including 13 centuries.
As far as Pujara is concerned, his absence from the Indian Test team for the Windies tour has been one of the talking points. He said not having millions of followers on social media platforms, like some of the other Indian stars such as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, is no reason to drop anyone.
“Why has he been made the scapegoat for our batting failures? He has been a loyal servant of Indian cricket, a quiet and able achiever. But because he doesn`t have millions of followers on whatever platforms who would make a noise in case he gets dropped, you drop him? That is something beyond understanding,” said Gavaskar.
“What are the criteria for dropping him and keeping the others who failed? I don`t know because nowadays there is no media interaction with the selection committee chairman or whoever where you could actually ask these questions,” he added.
The highly promising and in-form Yashasvi Jaiswal could be taking up the No.3 spot that Pujara made his own over the last decade.
Continuing, the batting great said that age should not be a criterion for selecting players.
“Yes he has been playing County cricket, he knows what the red ball is all about. Nowadays players can play till they are 39 or 40, there is nothing wrong with that. They are all very fit and as long as you are producing runs or taking wickets, I don`t think age should be a factor. Clearly only one man has been singled out while the others also failed. To me, the batting failed (in WTC final). Apart from Ajinkya Rahane, there was nobody who got any runs. So why Pujara has been made the fall guy is something the selectors need to explain.”
(With PTI inputs)