The national selection committee chairman Chetan Sharma said on Saturday that he had informed four senior members of the team - Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Wriddhiman Saha and Ishant Sharma - that they will not be considered for the two Test matches against Sri Lanka.
Addressing the media, Sharma said that all the four players were asked to go back to Ranji Trophy and perform. "The selectors took the decision after much deliberation. We have spoken to them soon after the South Africa series, we told them that we will not consider them for the two Test matches against Sri Lanka and the doors are absolutely open for them. There is absolutely no problem. We told them to go and play the Ranji Trophy," Sharma said.
While Saha skipped the Ranji Trophy due to personal reasons, Rahane scored a century in the tournament against Saurashtra on Friday. Pujara, however, had to return on a duck in the first innings against Mumbai. "The best part is that they are such senior players and they are going and playing Ranji Tophy. The doors are open for them. Just for two Test matches, selectors wanted to give chance to other players," the chairman of the selection committee added.
"We are nobody to close doors on anyone. This is a game of cricket where you have to score runs, pick up wickets and then you can play for the country. That's the most important aspect. When we decide to give a break to a player, we make it a point to give them a period. I have requested all four of them to play Ranji Trophy. The selectors are giving a lot of attention to domestic cricket and Ranji Trophy. The tournament is happening after a long while, so we thought it would be good if they go back there and perform..."
Saha scored a match-saving half-century against New Zealand in Kanpur last year, but had to warm the bench during the tour of South Africa. There were speculations that since he is 37, the selectors wanted to look beyond him. However, Sharma clarified that age is not a criteria.
"We don't want to give too much of an importance to age. It is okay. After a point, the selectors start thinking that if an youngster is around, you want to give them a chance... The management decides the best possible XI. We, selectors, have been following KS Bharat and watched him keep in Kanpur. There is nothing wrong in telling Saha (and the other three) that we will not consider them for Sri Lanka Tests," Sharma said.
"This selection committee feels that unless you are unfit, or you have injury issues, you should play domestic cricket. That's most important. If someone does not want to play, we cannot interfere in that..."