The thumb injury to India opener Shikhar Dhawan in the match against Australia at the Oval on Sunday came as a huge shock for both the team and the fans. Dhawan had just hit a hundred in the same game in which he sustained the injury and was ruled out for three weeks. The ace southpaw’s exit makes it even challenging for the Indian team management for an entirely new batting combination has to be thought out now for the remaining games.
Though India have called up Rishabh Pant as Dhawan’s cover, the 33-year-old ‘Gabbar’ has been asked to stay with the squad. His recovery will be closely monitored as India remains hopeful that the man goes out to bat again in the game’s biggest tournament.
Indian assistant coach Sanjay Bangar revealed that the door is yet not closed on the India opener and a call regarding his future will only be taken after assessing him for another couple of weeks.
“As far as Shikhar is concerned, we’ll be observing him, and around the 10th or 12th day, we’ll get to know where he stands, and we’ll be in a better position to take a call because we don’t want to rule out a precious player like Shikhar. We’re straight at the time of when the impact or the injury happened, so we would like to wait and assess after 10, 12 days,” he said.
KL Rahul moves up at the top of the order confirms Sanjay Bangar
With KL Rahul opening the innings with Rohit Sharma, Vijay Shankar emerges as a top contender for India’s No. 4 spot. During India’s light practice session on Wednesday, Shankar was the first to put on the pads and had a go in the nets for roughly 40 minutes. Dinesh Karthik is another option but the wicketkeeper batsman batted twice for approximately 10 minutes each.
“As far as the batting order goes, yes, KL moves up at the top of the order, and there are various options the team management can utilize going into the next game. Obviously, Vijay Shankar is going to be an option, and there are a couple of others as well,” Bangar added.
“The advantages of playing in various situations is that you understand the game a lot better. So if you’re batting in the middle order and if you’re a top order and you get to bat in the middle order, then you get to know the challenges faced by the middle order. So if a player is able to do that – and if you look across the history of the game, players have been very versatile.”
But while India continue to fret over Dhawan, the BCCI went ahead and sent SOS to Rishabh Pant back home, who is being flown in as cover for the injured opener and will join the team in Manchester ahead of the high-voltage India-Pakistan tie. A cover means that Pant will only be a standby and not a replacement; at least not till a final call is taken regarding Dhawan.
“So far we haven’t received any message regarding Rishabh. The thing is around 10 or 12 days, we’ll be taking a call on the status of Shikhar,” Bangar said. “Until that point, just to make sure that if and when the replacement is required – and I’m saying if and when – then it is always good to have the replacement player coming in and practising with the team, as a standby.”