Mumbai: Shikhar Dhawan had blown away Australia with a 117 off 95 balls. However, he scored that ton with a broken thumb against Australia. And, that injury ultimately turned out to be fatal for him as for the team. The injury forced Dhawan to be ruled out of the World Cup, hindering India’s chances of getting off to a flying start. The BCCI confirmed his exit in a tweet.
Dhawan who is also known as ‘Mr ICC’, since he always produces match winning performances in all ICC-based tournaments. Dhawan along with Rohit Sharma formed a formidable opening pair during the last four years. However, in Dhawan’s absence KL Rahul got an opportunity to forge an outstanding 136-runs opening stand with Rohit during the match against Pakistan.
On June 18, the BCCI asked ICC for a replacement and the cricket’s apex body (ICC) had accepted BCCI’s demands for a replacement on June 19. Earlier, the BCCI had flown Rishabh Pant as a cover for injured Shikhar Dhawan after he got injured during the game against Australia. The 21-year-old joined the Indian side in Manchester before the crucial encounter versus Pakistan. The youngster now will finally be drafted into the squad in place of injured Shikhar Dhawan.
After Dhawan’s exit from the tournament, we could see the following changes:-
KL Rahul will be opening for India for the rest of World Cup. Earlier, before the World Cup official match underway, the Indian team management announced its decision to include Vijay Shankar as the first-choice for the number four batsman. However, Shankar got injured and the management replaced him with KL Rahul as the number four batsman. On May 28, during the warm-up match against Bangladesh, KL went on to score 108 as India crushed Bangladesh by 95 runs.
On May 9, Dhawan sustained an injury and Rahul was replaced him as an opener. KL also has been opening innings for Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) during the IPL. KL has the ability to adapt to any situation like he did during the warm up match versus Bangladesh and against the Pakistan match in which he scored a vital 57. His vital knocks of 57 and 108 did a world of good for him as the selectors found a reliable opener in him, despite the departure consistent performer in ICC.
However, expecting KL to perform like Dhawan will be unrealistic. Nevertheless, KL Rahul did played well despite the slow start against Pakistan. KL did a wonderful job by rotating the strike and giving the strike to the man in form – Rohit Sharma. The batsman from Karnataka will now seek to bolster India's World Cup campaign by acting as an opener with Rohit Sharma.
Finally, Rishabh Pant will get the chance to showcase his skills. After the selectors announced the final 15-member World Cup squad, Rishabh Pant was overlooked. His exclusion raised quite a few questions among the Indian cricket fraternity. The Delhi capitals opener has formed a reputable image as a destructive batsman who could change the game in a few moments, but due to lack of consistency he was overlooked by the selectors.
However, Pant's entry to the World Cup might be a blessing in disguise. After the inclusion of Pant, India now has two match winners in Pant and Pandya, and both of them can change the course of the game in no time. During the match against Pakistan, India's run-rate dropped tremendously after Hardik Pandya failed to time the ball accurately.
Vijay Shankar’s 15 not-out from 15 balls and Kedar Jadhav nine off 8 balls, too, failed to provide the team a perfect ending. While Pakistan’s dismal performance with the bat didn’t affect India in the last match, but, lack of power-hitters at the end might prove to be the changing moments against England, Australia and New Zealand.
Additionally, India's number four batsman during the previous two games has been dependent more on the circumstances. The top-three has consistent in both the games, leaving the number four batsman to do the damage at the end. Hardik Pandya performed brilliantly at number four, and Rishabh Pant could be the ideal player to follow him.
Kedar Jadhav or Vijay Shankar?
It would be unfair to drop Kedar Jadhav, but circumstances are more inclined towards Vijay Shankar who is likely to be in the playing XI. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s injury has made it complicated to include Jadhav in the XI. Moreover, Shankar picked up two important wickets in the game against Pakistan. While Kedar Jadhav hasn’t bowled a single ball. On the other hand, Rishabh Pant is a better striker of the ball. So, it might be a better choice to include Pant than Jadhav.