Former New Zealand cricketer Simon Doull believes veteran batter Ajinkya Rahane's time in the Test arena is almost over, with youngsters like Shreyas Iyer making a strong case for a longer run in the red-ball format.
Rahane's slump in form has raised doubts about his place in the squad for the upcoming South Africa tour, scheduled to commence later this month.
Doull feels Iyer, who scored a century on debut, should get the nod ahead of Ajinkya Rahane in the series against the Proteas.
Speaking on Star Sports after India's record 372-run win against New Zealand in Mumbai, Simon Doull said:
"It's a bit like airplane loyalty card points, at some point it's going to run out. I know Rahane is a champion human being, I know he is a huge part of this setup and part of the leadership group. But players with far better numbers over 29 innings have been dropped from this team.
"I know he has got a good record overseas but his time seems to have passed."
The 33-year-old Rahane registered scores of 35 and 4 against the Kiwis in Kanpur before missing the final Test in Mumbai due to a hamstring injury. Simon Doull added:
"He is getting out in a similar fashion and I just don't know if he is as good a player as he was three or four years ago. When the young guys are coming along and kicking the door down, like they are doing at the moment, they deserve an opportunity."
There has been speculation that Shreyas Iyer might replace the underfire Rahane in the upcoming South Africa tour.
Iyer, who played both Tests against the Black Caps, grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He scored a century and fifty on debut in Kanpur.
The 27-year-old finished as the second-highest run-scorer in the series with 202 runs at an average of 50.50.
"I just don't think that's good enough" - Simon Doull on Rahane's below-par average
Ajinkya Rahane has managed to score just two fifties since his century against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December last year.
He has an average of 24 in the last 29 innings with his overall Test average falling below 40 for the first time in his Test career.
Simon Doull feels Rahane's average is not up to the standards set by the Indian team to be in the squad for the upcoming tour.
"If (Rahane) was averaging 34 or 35 in the last 29 innings with a couple of centuries, I would have said keep him in the squad. But when you are averaging 24 with one century in 29 innings, I just don't think that's good enough.
"From the standards that India set, these numbers are well and truly below par and the time has come to bring in a young player. I know it's a tough introduction, but I think I will run with Shreyas Iyer," Doull concluded.
India are due to tour South Africa next week to play three Tests, starting on December 26, followed by the same number of ODIs.