Indian cricket team opener Shikhar Dhawan has been one of the most sorted players when it comes to white-ball cricket. He has been an epitome of success, and the consistency is there for one and all to see. Dhawan has been an engine for Team India, scoring aplenty in both ODIs and T20Is. However, with the management preferring a fresher set of talents, India brought in other options to play alongside Rohit Sharma at the top, especially in T20Is. KL Rahul has been the preferred choice, whereas opportunities have also been given to Ishan Kishan of late.
Notably, Dhawan wasn’t a part of India’s ICC T20 World Cup squad in 2021. The southpaw played his last game for India in T20Is back in July 2021. Since then, the prolific Dhawan has been overlooked.
Rested or ignored?
Given that Dhawan has fared so well in the Indian Premier League over the years, and the tournament being one of the benchmarks for cricketers being selected for the T20I set-up, the decision to drop Dhawan seems baffling. Last time, selector Chetan Sharma said Dhawan is in the loop and is being rested. Now looking at the scenarios, it’s safe to say, Dhawan was dropped and not rested. With the ICC T20 World Cup to be held in Australia this year, India need experience and a champion performer.
That’s where someone like a Dhawan comes into play. It remains to be seen whether someone like Dhawan gets any backing from the management or whether he continues to be shunned. India have an upcoming series against South Africa, and Dhawan needs to be looked at. Let merit be on offer here, and Dhawan deserves something, which is a chance.
Dhawan’s performance for Team India
Dhawan is the fourth-highest scorer for Team India in T20Is to date. He has racked up 1,759 runs at an average of 27.92. He has smashed 11 fifties to date with the best of 92. Dhawan has a strike rate of 126.36. Dhawan’s last assignment for Team India was against Sri Lanka last year, where he got scores of 46, 40, and 0. Also, when you look at the most runs by a pair in T20Is. Dhawan and Rohit lead the line with a total of 1,743 runs at 33.51. They have 11 fifty-plus stands as a pair.
Dhawan’s consistent numbers in the IPL
In the IPL, Dhawan has scored the second-most runs (6,086). He has clocked an average of 35.17, hammering two tons and 46 fifties. He has a strike rate of 126.92. However, Dhawan has enjoyed himself over the last few editions of the IPL. In IPL 2021, Dhawan finished as the fourth-highest scorer (587). In IPL 2020, he was the second-best scorer after KL Rahul. Dhawan had slammed 618 runs at 44.14. Before that, in IPL 2020, he was the fourth-highest scorer, amassing 521 runs. He was also the 10th highest scorer in IPL 2018 (497).
His performance in IPL 2022 and comparison against the other opening options
Dhawan has scored 302 runs in IPL 2022 (4th highest). He is averaging 43.14. He is one of the four players to score 300-plus runs. His highest score is 88*. When we compare his numbers to the other opening options, Dhawan is only behind Rahul, who has 368 runs. Dhawan is way above Rohit (153), Ruturaj Gaikwad (138), Ishan Kishan (199), and Devdutt Padikkal (199). His strike rate is also better than everyone apart from Rahul.
Why does Dhawan need backing?
India need specialists in the side to do well in a global event. Seeing India’s show last year, it’s safe to say experimentation is not ideal. India need to identify a rough squad on the drawing board and try them out. Too many changes can only be baffling and confusing. Opening with Dhawan can work well. If he does the job in the build-up, then there’s no one better than him opening. This can allow KL Rahul to come in at number three or four.
Dhawan is a much better player than the options India will have going into the World Cup. If Dhawan is not selected in the playing XI, he can at least be on the bench to add more depth. If Dhawan ends up scoring 500-plus runs in IPL 2022, there will be pressure on the selectors to watch him being drafted in.
Possibilities for India T20 WC
Team with Dhawan in the starting XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul (wk), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami
Bench: Rishabh Pant, Rahul Chahar, Harshal Patel, Dinesh Karthik
Team without Dhawan in the starting XI: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami
Bench: Rishabh Pant, Rahul Chahar, Harshal Patel, Shikhar Dhawan