Time to try Shikhar Dhawan down the order

Tags: India, Shikhar Dhawan, batting

Published on: Jan 22, 2015

The way Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed in the tri-series match against England on Tuesday almost seemed like a foregone conclusion.

The way Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed in the tri-series match against England on Tuesday almost seemed like a foregone conclusion. James Anderson came in, dropped the ball on a spot, and Dhawan placed his bat out there to allow the delivery to move and take the edge of the bat. Unlike at Melbourne where the left-hander played the ball away from the body, this delivery was closer to him, and he was offering a defensive shot. Still, it wasn't an unplayable delivery as Dhawan made it look. And that has been the problem with Dhawan. He just hasn't displayed the technique to keep the routine balls out.

Unless Dhawan gets injured, he is likely to feature in the World Cup. But, the manner in which he has struggled in England, and here in Australia, opening with him in the World Cup will be a colossal risk. In the next couple of games India must figure out what kind of batting combination they need going into the World Cup. Their biggest headache as of now undoubtedly is the batting of Dhawan. In the wake of his constant failures, the selectors must be ruing the fact that they did not choose the in-form Murali Vijay as the back-up opener. The selectors have only themselves to blame though, as they had seem Dhawan's failures from close quarters.

There is no point crying over spilt milk now. The Indians have to make do with what they have. But, the time has certainly come for them to change the opening combination. There is no way that Dhawan should be opening the innings in the World Cup. Ajinkya Rahane accompanied Dhawan to the crease on Tuesday against England, and India must continue with him and Rohit Sharma, when he returns from injury. Rahane has the experience of opening before in one-dayers albeit with moderate success. But, his presence is a definite plus for India in the wake of their opening woes.

Rahane was looking in good touch at Brisbane until he played that premeditated slog to lose his wicket to Steven Finn. This has been a problem with Rahane as he has often been dismissed after getting a start. This is one area of his one-day game, which Rahane needs to improve upon. To be fair to him, these are still early days in his career, and there have been a number of instances when he has been shunted up and down the order. Still, an average of under 30 does not befit him. Rahane could find a good in-form partner in Rohit Sharma. But, it is crucial for the latter to stay fit.

As for Dhawan, he must be given an opportunity to bat lower down the order, so that it can be observed whether he is good enough to bat in the middle-order. It can be recalled that Dhawan batted lower down the order in the Test at Brisbane, and made a fluent 81. He was clearly not troubled when the ball wasn't moving around. If this works in the one-dayers as well. Rahane and Dhawan could swap places in the batting order. After all, it is clear by now that Dhawan isn't good enough to deal with the moving ball even in the shorter formats. If he fails there as well, India have a good reserve option in Ambati Rayudu.

--By A Cricket Analyst

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