Ahead of their third match against New Zealand here on Thursday, India suffered a huge blow with Shikhar Dhawan set to be sidelined for at least 2-3 matches due to an injury he suffered during their match against Australia at the Oval on Sunday.
The opener was hit on his left hand by a Pat Cummins’ delivery early in his innings and it’s suspected to be a hairline thumb fracture though a BCCI statement on Tuesday evening here typically didn’t mention the nature of the injury nor the time he requires to recover.
The southpaw, who struck a match-winning 117 despite being in pain for which he took on-field treatment on two occasions, will remain in England as the team management wants to monitor his progress.
“Team India opening batsman 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,” the statement said.
“Mr Dhawan sustained an injury on the back of his left hand in the region between the index finger and thumb during the CWC 2019 league match against Australia,” it added.
The decision comes after Dhawan, accompanied by team physio Patrick Farhart, had his injured part scanned in Leeds on Tuesday.
The team management’s decision to stick with Dhawan is understandable for he has a great record in ICC tournaments and his experience will be crucial in the knockouts. The Delhi batsman has 1238 runs with six hundreds at an average of 65.15 and a strike rate of 98.25 in matches spread over World Cup and Champions Trophy.
In World Cups alone he has amassed 537 runs 53.70 and a strike rate of 94.21. Also, if they seek a replacement at the moment and Dhawan gets fit in time for knockouts, they can’t have him back in the squad of 15 unless there’s another injury replacement.
The senior Indian selectors had named Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant as two of the four standbys but neither of them is an opener. The obvious option at hand is bringing back K L Rahul to open the innings and draft in either Dinesh Karthik or Vijay Shankar to come in the middle-order.
This arrangement, however, will rob India of one of their most successful opening pairs. On Sunday Kohli had lauded the Dhawan-Rohit Sharma pair for forging such a prolonged partnership, starting from 2013.
Together, Dhawan and Rohit have amassed 4681 runs which puts them just one place behind the third-placed Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes as the opening combo with most runs in ODIs.