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It took a lot of years, a lot of series, a lot of captains, and a lot of players to see India achieve such heights in the cricketing world. Talking about tests in specific, India's progression as a test side picked pace when India beat Australia 2-1 in a Test series, a remarkable win that saw India producing one of their finest conquests in Test Cricket.

It was Sourav Ganguly who was at the helm and what he did to the Indian side was immense in terms of progress and performances against top cricketing nations.

Then came Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a captain that helped India win their first Test and ODI series in New Zealand in 40 years, and also played a huge role in India claiming the 1st spot in ICC Test rankings for the first time.

Then came Virat Kohli and has managed to become India's most successful Test captain. Under him and Rahane (who was the captain for the last three tests), India beat Australia in a series in Australia for the first time in their history, and India also breached the Gabba fortress, becoming the first Test side to win at the ground since 1988.

All this being said, India's increased credibility as a test-playing nation should be hugely credited to the players and that's why today we will compare two Indian players who have been on the test team for a while now.

Cheteshwar Pujara, India's one of the most defensively sound batsmen currently, and Ajinkya Rahane, who has led the side with such grace and produced results when key players were missing from the squad. Let's compare them taking into consideration several factors in Test Cricket.

Let's begin!

Overall stats

Talking about Cheteshwar Pujara, Pujara has 6267 runs in 86 test matches, an average of 46.08, with 29 50s, 18 tons, and three double-centuries to his name. Ajinkya Rahane, on the other hand, has 4647 runs in 74 test matches, an average of 41.12, with 23 50s and 12 tons to his name.

Pujara Rahane test stats Rahane
Pujara and Rahane Test stats

When we compare their overall numbers, Pujara comes out on top. Rahane debuted in 2013, while Pujara played his maiden test in 2010. The difference between the two is not much as Pujara edges his teammate in this factor of comparison.

Last three-Test Series (With an additional test: the World Test Championship final)

The drama is beginning to unfold as we unravel both these player's statistics in their last three test series that is equivalent to the last 10 matches with an additional WTC final test. 

PlayerPujaraPujaraRahaneRahane
Opposition 1st Innings Score2nd Innings score1st Innings Score2nd Innings score
New Zealand (1st Test)11114629
(2nd Test)542479
Australia (1st Test)430420
(2nd Test)17311227*
(3rd Test)5077224
(4th Test)25563724
England (1st Test)731510
(2nd Test)2176710
(3rd Test)0DNB7DNB
(4th Test)17-27-
WTC FINAL 8154915

Looking at this, it is evident that Ajinkya Rahane has been the better batsman recently. However, while Rahane has a ton, a half-century, and some 40+ Scores, Pujara has five half-centuries and a 40+score.

Ajinkya Rahane is the better batsman when considered this factor.

Reliability

Just so you know, both of these batsmen are reliable and that's the reason why they have been regular playing Test Cricket for India. However, when we get into this factor literally, it is Cheteshwar Pujara who comes on top.  Pujara may score at a lower rate than Rahane but Pujara spends more time on the crease and usually converts his scores better than Rahane. 

If a wicket goes down early, we have often seen Pujara come and soak the pressure, while this has rarely been a case with Rahane. Pujara is calmer and composed and his false shot percentage is also comparatively lesser than Rahane.

However, the tables turn when Rahane is the captain of the Indian team. The biggest example of this is when Virat Kohli left the Australia tour after the first test loss, and Ajinkya Rahane took over the responsibility.

India not only made an astounding comeback but Rahane's leadership reflected clearly in his batting, making him a better leader than Pujara.

Versatility 

The fact that Rahane has played considerable games in all formats while Pujara's career has remained strictly with Tests, it's clear that Rahane is the more versatile player.

Rahane also has almost 4000 runs in the IPL, the biggest T20 tournament in the world, while Pujara has less than 400 runs in the IPL.

The threat of losing a spot in the side 

A lot of questions have started to pop up, not on Rahane this time but Pujara, who has been out of form lately. While Rahane has managed to put something on the board, Pujara has only managed minutes but he has failed to put runs on the board, something he used to do very brilliantly in the past.

Because of this, India falls behind in scoring rate in a day's play and loses a wicket as well. Meanwhile, Rahane hasn't been in the best of form as well but his numbers show that he has still held his end on some occasions, one of them being the final of the World Test Championship when he fell short by a half-century by a run. Thus, it is time that Pujara regains his trust back and vanishes all the questions that are raised on his batting.

Verdict

Pujara may be the more vulnerable batsman at the moment but it doesn't take away the fact that he has been India's wall on several occasions.

He also has three double-centuries, something that Rahane has not managed even once. The batsmen are not far apart but it is Pujara who has still holds a considerable gap ahead of Rahane, and India's reliable captain on certain occasions will have to play more consistently to be hailed as a better batting option than Pujara.

Who is your personal favorite? Rahane? Pujara? Or someone else? Let us know via our social media accounts. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. We bet you won't be.

Stay tuned for more updates.