It was in June, 2014 against Bangladesh, when Pujara played his “last” ODI. As mentioned in few of his interviews then, he was trying very hard to get into the coloured kits and was trying to alter his natural game. But then came the haunting tour of England (July 2014) of 5 test matches followed by the tour to Australia, late in that year, for 4 test matches.
He struggled so much with his form in tests, that he scored just a single half century in 10 innings in England and almost lost his place to Rohit Sharma in the final test in Australia. But thanks to the inconsistency and lack of temperament of Rohit Sharma, that it didn’t happen.
But what was Pujara onto next? He took an approval from BCCI to play county cricket in England, to improve his batting at the test level. He enjoyed a very good season with Nottinghamshire and returned to Indian team in the final test in Sri lanka in 2015. What did he do? He opened the innings and scored 145* carrying his bat throughout the innings and gained his momentum, confidence and his spot back, not looking back at the ODIs or IPL again.
The story of Rahane looks quite similar, apart from the fact that his batting in tests never really suffered. But it seems he is trying too hard for the ODI spot. He put up a dismal show in IPL this year, struggling against the domestic level bowlers. If it was not for Rahul Tripathi at the other end, Pune would have struggled to reach the play offs. Even his strike rate this IPL, was as low as his confidence.
He has been around in ODIs since long(2011) and has played good amount of matches(77) but with just 3 centuries and the average of 34,which has increased with few during this series of West Indies only. He has scored good amount of runs this series, but someone needs to ask, do we see him in the core team of 2019 world cup? I think no one does, apart from Virat Kohli, who really matters. It is time now that, players like Rahane and Yuvraj make way for the youngsters like Manish Pandey and Rishabh Pant, who can be the vital part of the Indian core team by 2019 world cup.
Also, if we look at his strike rate of 78 in today’s date, it feels like we are wasting those talents who are coming out of domestic leagues like Deodhar Trophy, Vijay Hazaare trophy, Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy or IPL. I am not aware of a single inning played by Rahane, where he won India a tough ODI match on his own.
One can always wear it as a badge of honour, that he is just a test batsman. Players like Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer have been performing good in the domestic circuit and IPL as well and should be tried ahead of Rahane and Yuvraj in the tours like West Indies, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. But looking at the captaincy style of Virat Kohli, it still looks a distant dream.