India’s dream start to the World Cup 2019 has been marred by the injury to Shikhar Dhawan that has ruled him out of the tournament for a few weeks. Dhawan scored a magnificent hundred in the match against Australia at the Oval on Sunday but also got his thumb fractured by a delivery from pacer Pat Cummins. The injury now has pushed him out of the tournament, albeit temporarily and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant has been called up as the ace opener’s cover.
While Dhawan has been kept with the squad and his injury is being monitored, the team management is yet not clear who to play in place of the southpaw as Rohit Sharma’s opening partner. Pushing KL Rahul up the order is one option but that raises another follow-up question: Who at No.4, the position that has kept the Indian team worried over a long time.
Former India captain Kapil Dev, who won the World Cup in 1983 in England as the first Asian captain, has come up with a pick as Dhawan’s replacement and it is Ajinkya Rahane. The technically sound batsman has not been picked in the Indian squad for the World Cup but Kapil believes he should be the injured opener’s replacement, particularly because he can both open and play in the middle order. The legend’s remark though had come before Pant was asked to fly to England as Dhawan’s cover.
Rahane should be picked ahead of Pant and Rayudu
“If Rahane’s name is being considered then he should be the first choice. He should be picked ahead of Pant and Rayudu. Rahane has experience of playing in big tournaments like the World Cup. He can open the batting and also play in the middle order,” Kapil was quoted as saying by ABP News. He had also asked the media to leave the job to decide the next opener to the selectors.
Rahane, who played in the last World Cup in 2015, last played for India in February 2018 in an ODI. In 90 games, the 31-year-old batsman has scored 2,962 runs at an average of 35.26 and strike-rate of above 78. Rahane is regular in India’s Test team and also the vice-captain of the side in the red-ball format.
Other former players like Sunil Gavaskar and Kevin Pietersen though are in favour of Ambati Rayudu taking Dhawan’s place in the World Cup squad. Rayudu was in the run to grab a berth but lost to Vijay Shankar eventually. Pant also lost to Dinesh Karthik in the race even though there was speculation about the 21-year-old dashing batter making his World Cup debut this year.