MUMBAI: India’s World Cup campaign suffered a blow on Sunday when a Pat Cummins bouncer hit opener Shikhar Dhawan’s left thumb, causing him an injury.
On Tuesday, the blow turned into a nightmare for the team as scans on the thumb revealed a fracture, ruling Dhawan out of the World Cup for the next three weeks. Those in the know say the Delhi batsman will not be available for selection at least until the match against Bangladesh, scheduled for July 2 or the one next against Sri Lanka on July 6.
The preliminary report on Dhawan’s injury confirmed a fracture. The team management will be given a thorough report at 2 pm UK time (around 6:30 pm IST)
“He’s as good as ruled out. It’s a huge blow,” sources privy to developments told TOI.
Dhawan’s untimely injury, however, has made way for the selection of another Delhi batsman Rishabh Pant The dashing wicket-keeper-batsman, who lost his spot in the World Cup to Dinesh Karthik, will now be packing his bags to leave for the United Kingdom at the earliest.
“Once all the details on Dhawan’s injury are out, the team management will put out an official request for a replacement. And that replacement is going to be Pant. The injury is bad enough to ask for a replacement,” sources told TOI.
The national selectors had ignored Pant while picking the 15-member squad for the World Cup, hinting at his lack of experience. However, with Dhawan – an aggressive batting option right up the order – being ruled out, the team is convinced that Pant should walk in at the earliest.
The 21-year-old could find himself on a flight to London within the next 48 hours. While India may not be able to include Pant in the playing eleven against New Zealand, the destructive left-hander is likely to be roped in for the all-important match against Pakistan. “Rahul could move up the order and open the innings with Rohit (Sharma) and Pant could be slotted at Number 4. But that’s pretty much like thinking aloud for now. We’ll weigh these options carefully,” sources added.
Dhawan’s loss in an ICC tournament is a huge one for India. His outstanding century against Australia on Sunday was only a reminder of how valuable the Delhi batsman has been for India in some of the recent 50-over multi-nation tournaments like the 2013 Champions Trophy and the 2015 World Cup.
Pant was always in the selection ranks where World Cup slots were being considered until a couple of months ago. To quote a senior member of the Indian team management, here’s how the batsman was being looked at: “the young man can be considered an asset as an opener as well as in the middle-order. At No. 4, he can be very valuable with his style of play. Along with Hardik, Pant can take the pressure off Virat and MS Dhoni by scoring quickly and they can focus on building totals.”
In the present context, nevertheless, Rahul – with his experience as an opener – is more likely to take up Dhawan’s role while Pant will have to fill in the slot that will be left vacant by Rahul in the middle-order.
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