How does the Indian batting order stack up after an injury to Shikhar Dhawan? Who'll bat at No 4?
The opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma is one of the best in the world in ODI cricket.
The duo is currently at the fourth spot in the all-time most successful opening partnership tally in ODIs, only after Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist and Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes. The partnership that first begin in the 2013 Champions Trophy has blossomed, with both compiling 4,681 runs from 103 innings at an average of over 45, including 16 hundred and 13 fifty partnerships.
Especially, Dhawan raises the bar in ICC tournaments and has a mind-blowing record of six centuries from 20 matches in ICC tournaments at an imperious average of 65.16.
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Dhawan was hit on the thumb on a rising delivery from pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile in India's recent fixture against Australia when he was on 23. After being attended by the Indian physio, the southpaw continued his inning and added 93 more runs to bring up his sixth century in ICC tournaments.
However, Dhawan looked in a lot of pain and did not come out to field. It later came to light that he actually suffered a fracture and will be out of the World Cup for three weeks, which rules him out at least from the the upcoming India fixtures against New Zealand (13 June) and Pakistan (16 June).
“Team India opening batsman Mr Shikhar Dhawan is presently under the observation of the BCCI medical team. The team management has decided that Mr Dhawan will continue to be in England and his progress will be monitored,” BCCI tweeted.
BCCI has also cleared the air, saying that Dhawan is currently not being pulled out of the World Cup but will be kept under observation. The reason behind this is that if Dhawan is replaced from the squad, he can return only if some other player is injured. With he impact that Dhawan can have in the knockout games, if he recovers soon enough, being well known, the team management is not ready to take that gamble.
This, for the moment rules out Rishab Pant being included in the squad, though he has flown to England as an injury cover for Dhawan, and hence being a viable option at number 4.
It is understood that KL Rahul, who had been batting at number four till now, will graduate to the opening slot.
This has again sparked the debate for the No 4 spot. It now leaves the team with No 4 options who are currently part of the Indian World Cup squad.
With the form in which MS Dhoni has been over the last six months, it is almost a temptation to bat Dhoni at number four. Having said that, it has also been noticed that he gets a bit stuck in the middle, especially against spinners and that hampers the scoring rate.
Dhoni is batting pretty well at number six and you would not want to fix one slot by disrupting another one. However, if MS Dhoni himself and the team management is eager to avail this option, Dinesh Kartik or Vijay Shankar can replace Dhawan in the playing XI and can play the role of a finisher along with Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya.
Dinesh Karthik is quite suited to the number four slot and has shown in the recent past that he has acquired serious ability to finish games. After Dhoni, if somebody in Team India has done the tidying up job well, it is Karthik.
One would remember a couple of innings when he helped India get over the line. The first that comes to mind is the final of the Nidahas trophy. In one of the ODIs against Australia in Australia as well, Karthik batted beautifully along with Dhoni and helped India win the match and hence makes a case for himself at number four.
Vijay Shankar has not got enough chances to prove his worth in the 50-over format. However, the little that we have seen of him, especially in the T20Is against New Zealand, he has shown a lot of potential.
Shankar is essentially a batting all-rounder whom India used as a bowling all-rounder for some time. But, at an average of around 50 in first class cricket, Shankar is more than capable of playing as a proper batsman and churning the strike in the middle overs. He can also hit some lusty blows and gives India another option at number four.
In case the Indian team management wants to go for a left-field choice, Kedar Jadhav can also be a good option. Jadhav is a street smart cricketer and can pinch singles and doubles on the big English grounds.
Given that he is almost a certainty in the playing XI due to his additional bowling skills and gives the team three-four overs on a consistent basis, he can be considered at number four as well.
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