Will the decisions to drop overseas specialist Rahane, workhorse Ishant pay off?

Ajinkya Rahane has now been axed from the Test team too, while Jasprit Bumrah was handed his Test debut in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Ajinkya Rahane's batting form has cost him his place in the Test side.   -  Getty Images

It is not often that the vice-captain of a team is dropped from the eleven for the first Test.

As a part of the team-management, Ajinkya Rahane would have been a part of the meeting that ended up with his name being excluded from the team for the first Test.

It’s sad because Rahane, who batted admirably in India’s past Test campaigns in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia, deserved better.

In fact, Rahane averages 57.00 in Australia, 33.22 in England, 54.00 in New Zealand and a whopping 69.66 in South Africa.

It’s true that Rahane has not been in form of late but then, given his past record in these parts, he could have turned things around.

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The diminutive right-hander uses his feet, has a secure defence and can play the horizonal bat shots effectively, so important on these pitches.

With the think-tank deciding to opt for pace-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya for an extra batsman – nothing wrong with this attacking ploy - India had to choose between Rahane and Rohit Sharma.

And Rohit, the man in form, got the nod. Yet, some past cricketers here felt Rohit’s recent performances have come in India while Rahane has, over the years, excelled on pitches with seam movement and bounce.

“Rahane should have at least been given a chance to fail. He has been valuable for India in the past on such pitches,” said a former international cricketer.

India threw up another surprise in selection when Jasprit Bumrah, making his Test debut, was preferred over the experienced Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav.

The thinking here was that Bumrah bowls an attacking length, can find outside edge with away going deliveries and pierce defences with yorkers and inswingers.

Time will tell whether India’s selection gambles pay off.

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