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Gavaskar, Harbhajan Criticise Pujara's Exclusion From Test Squad vs West Indies

BCCI dropped Cheteshwar Pujara from the 16-member Test squad for India's tour to West Indies

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BCCI on Friday announced the Test squad for the India’s tour to West Indies. Indian Test legend Cheteshwar Pujara though was missing from the 16-member squad with youngsters Ruturaj Gaikwad and Yashasvi Jaiswal getting their debut Test call-ups.

This is the second time Pujara has been dropped from the Test squad in the last year after his name was not picked for the home Tests against Sri Lanka last year. However, he was then roped in for the Border-Gavaskar trophy where he could score only 140 runs in 6 innings. His performance in the final of the World Test Championship against Australia wasn't much impressive either as he scored only 14 and 27 runs in the two innings.

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However, the news of Pujara’s absence from the Test squad hasn’t sat well with the legendary Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar. Condemning his exclusion, Gavaskar told Sports Today, “Why has he been dropped? Why has he been made the scapegoat for our batting failures. He has been a loyal servant of India cricket. A loyal and quiet servant. A loyal and quiet achiever. But because he does not have millions of followers on platforms who will make a noise in case he gets dropped, you drop him. That is something beyond understanding. What is the criteria of dropping him and keeping the others who failed? I do not know because nowadays, there is no media interaction with the selection committee chairman.”

He further added, “He has been playing country cricket. So, he has played a lot of red-call cricket and he knows what it is about. Today, people can play till they are 39-40 years old and as long as you are producing runs, I do not think age should be a factor. Apart from (Ajinkya) Rahane, the batting completely failed. Why Pujara has been made the fall guy is something the selectors will have to explain.”

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Former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh also wasn't too happy about Pujara’s exclusion from the team and in his blog said, “I hope it is a rest given to him rather than getting him dropped. A player who has played 100 Test matches should get the respect he deserves. I hope the selectors have talked to him and discussed the further roadmap with him.” 

“Cheteshwar Pujara is the backbone of this team, and if you are dropping him then the figures of other batters in the last two years aren’t that strong enough. These tough calls should be the same for everyone, no matter how big a player he is. If you don’t consider Cheteshwar Pujara a big player then for me, other players are not that great,” he added.

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