NZ vs IND: What does Shikhar Dhawan’s injury mean for Team India?

Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the T20I series against New Zealand, according to a report by ESPC Cricinfo. He hurt his shoulder while fielding against Australia in the third and final ODI in Bengaluru and was sent for a scan immediately afterwhich he did not get to bat in the second innings.

India is scheduled to play 5 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Tests in New Zealand which will go on till the beginning of March. The ‘Men in Blue’ will be without their premier opener in this crucial series. The selectors are yet to announce his replacement for the team.

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It is learnt that any player from the India A squad, which is already in the island country, could replace him. Mayank Agarwal’s outstanding performance in red-ball cricket for India could very well mean that he’d be in contention for Dhawan’s spot.

Suryakumar Yadav, too, had an excellent domestic season with Mumbai and he would hope to get a shot at the playing XI.

Recovering from an injury, Prithvi Shaw’s superb return to form against New Zealand A would also be kept in mind while selecting a replacement.

BCCI could also rope in Sanju Samson in the limited-overs format. That would mean that with KL Rahul opening for India, Samson would take over his spot behind the stumps. This would remove the additional pressure of wicket keeping from Rahul’s shoulders.

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Shikhar Dhawan’s injury does relieve the board of the headache of deciding Rohit Sharma’s opening partner in limited-overs. With Dhawan out of the picture, KL Rahul would come back to his natural spot as an opener. There is still no clarity over Rishabh Pant’s injury situation and whether or not Rahul would stay behind the stumps.

Shikhar Dhawan’s chances have been quite limited ever since he got his thumb fractured against Australia in last year’s World Cup. He then managed to hurt his knee during a Ranji Trophy match which resulted in him missing out the home series against West Indies.

His bad luck seemed to carry on in 2020 as well. After performing splendidly in the first two ODIs against Australia, he was held back by the shoulder injury in the third match.

Shikhar Dhawan's injury adds to India's list of worries. On Monday, veteran pacer Ishant Sharma suffered from an ankle injury while bowling during a Ranji Trophy game. Even Rishabh Pant's situation hasn't been made clear after he was hit by a bouncer after a top-edged delivery from Pat Cummins hit his helmet in the first ODI, which resulted in him getting concussed.

If Dhawan's injury persists, it would be bothersome for India to carry forward without a player of his talent. After the NZ series, India play hosts to South Africa for a three-match ODI series starting from March 12. Dhawan should hope that he recovers before the SA series because India's next match will directly be in the ICC T20 World Cup on October 29.

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