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'Shikhar' crisis

Shikhar crisis

Ace opener Shikhar Dhawan's Twitter video on Wednesday was almost a bolt from the blue for Team India and a billion fans who are eyeing a win at the cricket World Cup for the third time. The 'Gabbar', who has been ruled out of the World Cup due to a thumb injury sustained during India's match against Australia, shared the news of his unavailability through an emotional video. Dhawan is the highest run-getter for India in the ICC trophies and also scored a thumping 100 against the mighty Aussies to give his side a scintillating win over the defending champions. Since cementing his place in the Indian ODI team after a superlative performance in the 2013 Champions Trophy, Dhawan has been part of an indomitable opening partnership with Rohit Sharma and complimented each other superbly, which has helped India win several key matches. Dhawan's form in ICC 50-over tournaments has been one of India's strongest suits, with the southpaw finishing as the highest run-getter for the team in the 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophy and the 2015 World Cup. Rohit and Shikhar's opening combination has been a nightmare for all the teams and now India will have to play K L Rahul as a new opener, which means there will be no left hand-right hand combination at the top which was known to trouble the bowlers. More importantly, even if Rahul fails, the Indian team will not have an alternative. Secondly, Rohit will not get the time he needs at the start of the innings to settle down. In such a circumstance, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) will be sending Rishabh Pant as a substitution. The whole country erupted in anger when Pant was left out from the World Cup squad and there was a lot of hue and cry about it. At that juncture, chairman of the selection committee MSK Prasad said Vijay Shankar, who was chosen ahead of Pant, is a "three-dimensional" cricketer and would be of greater help for Team India. Now, when Pant has already reached England and is all set to make his World Cup debut against Afghanistan, this statement from the selection committee chairman needs some deliberation. So, has Shankar stopped being that "three-dimensional" cricketer within a couple of days? It's important to note that Shankar picked up two wickets on his World Cup debut against Pakistan. Also, while Rahul will continue to open the innings, it stays to be seen whether Pant is played at number four or Vijay Shankar is slotted. Dhawan's absence would also mean that the only left-hander in the Indian top order would be out of action. The top three — captain Virat Kohli along with Dhawan and Rohit have been the most feared batting syndicate in the world. With Dhawan gone at a crucial time, both Rohit and Virat will have to shoulder more responsibility. With the Indian think tank back to the old dilemma of filling up the crucial number 4 slot, it needs to be seen how India shapes up to the 'disrupted' top order and to the 'dearth of diversity'.

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