The official communication from the Indian camp says, “Shikhar Dhawan will be under observation”. The southpaw is certain to miss India’s next few matches and he could even be ruled out of the World Cup after suffering a fracture on his left thumb.
The team management will now have to rejig the opening combination. KL Rahul’s promotion to partner Rohit Sharma at the top will see the No.4 position fall vacant. Rishabh Pant is flying out to England as Dhawan’s cover at the moment. He will be drafted in as the replacement if the opener is ruled out of the tournament. Dhawan’s injury upsets India’s batting dynamics.
Rohit and Dhawan are India’s second most successful opening pair with 4,681 runs between them so far in 103 matches. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly tower over the rest, with 6,609 runs from 136 ODIs. Both Rohit and Dhawan have scored a century apiece in this World Cup and more importantly, they complement each other. Dhawan’s injury means the left-right combination at the top will be broken.
Rahul had scored a century on his ODI debut. But over the last 12-odd months, he has been used as a middle-order batsman, mostly at No.4. It didn’t change at the World Cup as well, although chief selector MSK Prasad had spoken about picking Rahul as a reserve opener at the squad selection press conference. Rahul, though, opens the batting in Tests, which makes him a shoo-in as a replacement opener. Easier said than done. Opening thrives on partnership batting, and Rahul and Rohit have never played as opening pair before. It takes time for a new combination to gel.