At the end of the ICC World Cup 2019 game between India and Australia at The Oval that the Men in Blue won by 36 runs, it appeared like Team India was shaping up beautifully. Their batting, especially, finally looked to be getting in order as they compiled a solid 352-6 in their 50 overs with contributions from almost every batsman.
The one man that stood out in the game was opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan. His 117 off 109 balls studded with 17 fours helped set the tone for India, and then the others like Rohit Sharma, captain Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and KL Rahul made substantial contributions to take India to a healthy total.
During his knock, though, Dhawan was hit on his left thumb by a Pat Cummins delivery. While at the time the injury didn’t look serious it was later revealed through scans that Dhawan has suffered a hairline fracture on his left thumb and is likely to be out of action for the next two to three weeks. For now, Dhawan is certain to miss India’s next two games in the World Cup – against New Zealand and Pakistan.
This is a severe blow to Team India at the World Cup as Shikhar Dhawan was one of the essential parts of the team’s batting unit and was just coming in his elements. Dhawan’s record in ICC tournaments is incredible – 1238 runs in 20 innings with six hundred and four fifties – and he is particularly useful in England. His unavailability at the top at this crucial juncture in the tournament will undoubtedly mess the team management’s plans.
In the next couple of matches, KL Rahul, who was occupying the No. 4 position, is likely to be moved to the opener’s slot and someone like Dinesh Karthik could be used in his place instead. Rahul, who is a proper opener across all formats of the game, was being used in the middle-order because India’s top two were already sorted. But now Rahul, who has shown right touch, is likely to be moved to the position he is used to playing.
Dinesh Karthik is in the squad for the World Cup and has played the warm-up games as well. Moreover, he has plenty of international experience and has been in good form of late. He would provide stability in the middle-order and is also known for his finishing abilities. A few good games under his belt and Karthik might well stake a claim in the team with his fluent batting and terrific fielding.
Meanwhile, some rumors are doing the rounds that Rishabh Pant might be drafted in as a replacement for Shikhar Dhawan. However, things will only get manifest in the next few days. If a replacement is called that would mean Dhawan cannot be used any further in the tournament which is a move fraught with risk if he goes on to attain full fitness again. Hence the team management would have to be cautious on how they handle this issue.
It will be interesting to see how things go from here for Team India. They have enough firepower still to make an impact. But will Shikhar Dhawan’s untimely injury derail their campaign? We shall have some answers by the end of this week.