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World Cup 2019: Who should replace Shikhar

Dhawan for the match against New Zealand

12.06.2019   Author: C.NAMASIVAYAM

Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a  match-winning century against Australia on Sunday, has been ruled out of the World Cup 2019 for three weeks with a fractured thumb. Dhawan was hit on his left thumb by a short delivery from Pat Cummins in India’s match against Australia.

The absence of in-form Dhawan from the batting line-up would be a big blow for team India’s chances. He has been a runaway success for India in ICC tournaments played in England.

By way of immediate replacement for the next match against New Zealand, India has a batting all-rounder in Vijay Shankar and a wicket-keeper batsman in Dinesh Karthik in the squad.

The third opener in the team

In Dhawan’s absence, the third opener in the team, KL Rahul would naturally be promoted to the top to open the innings with Rohit Sharma. That leaves a void in the middle-order at No 4. The No. 4 conundrum would once again surface to haunt the team management.

The ideal player to fill in the No. 4 spot in the present squad would be Vijay Shankar. He has been successful with the bat in the only innings he played in the ODI series against New Zealand in New Zealand prior to the World Cup. Shankar made 45 at Wellington to pull India from a spot of bother at 18 for 4.

Against Australia at home, Shankar had consistently middling scores of 46, 32 and 26. In his short career, he has scored 165 runs in 5 innings at an average of 33 and strike rate of 96.

Though not a strike-bowler, Shankar is a useful part-time bowler who could contribute with 4 or 5 overs every match. With the kind of weather forecasted for the next few days all over the UK,  Shankar could be the fourth seamer that India would be looking forward to employing in helpful overcast conditions.

Shankar ahead of Karthik

By opting for Shankar ahead of Karthik, India could resist the temptation of bringing in Mohammad Shami in place of Kuldeep Yadav.  On the other hand, the team management could exploit the possibility of accommodating Ravindra Jadeja in place of Kuldeep Yadav which would give the team a better balance both in batting and bowling.  Jadeja could be the additional back up in the batting order in the absence of Dhawan.

Taking into consideration the failure of India’s top order against New Zealand and particularly against Trent Boult in recent times, the induction of Shankar and Jadeja in the playing XI should bring some stability to the middle and late-order batting.

As far as the option of having Karthik as a replacement for Dhawan is concerned, on current form, he is not best suited to bat at No. 4. The entire batting order will have to be re-shuffled to accommodate Karthik at No. 6.

In recent times, Karthik has got only limited opportunities to prove himself but he never justified his selection with an impact innings. In fact, in his last 20 ODI innings, he has scored only 2 fifties. He has played some cameos when the target was in sight but otherwise, he has not applied himself to play a big innings.

To sum up, the loss of Dhawan due to injury would be a big blow for India's campaign. Though Shankar is not a like-for-like replacement for Dhawan, he is the best option available in the squad right now until the selectors announce another replacement for Dhawan.