India cricket team had a successful start to their ICC cricket World Cup 2019 campaign with comprehensive wins in the first two matches, but the Virat Kohli-led side has been hit by a major blow at the top of the batting order as opener and swashbuckling southpaw Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the tournament for three weeks after sustaining injury on his left thumb while playing a bouncer by Australian pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile. However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not confirmed the news yet.
Despite the injury, Dhawan, who has a special connection with the Oval ground, went on to score a match-winning 117 in India’s second World Cup match against Australia. However, the Southpaw did not come out to field and was seen with an ice pack on his left arm. He was substituted by Ravindra Jadeja throughout the 50 overs.
Dhawan will undergo precautionary scans on Tuesday to determine the extent of injury on his swollen left thumb. The injury comes as a big setback for India, as the southpaw, considered a big-game player, has an impeccable record in ICC tournaments.
In case it is found that the left-hander is not fit to play the remaining matches, India may have to explore other options and for that, the following four players are likely to get the call up.
Rishabh Pant. Photo: AP | PTI1) Rishabh Pant: Staring at a call-up would be another southpaw who missed a slot to experienced batsman Dinesh Karthik in India's 15-member World Cup squad by a thin margin. If there is any name doing the rounds, it is Rishabh Pant. The left-hander can turn out to be a force to reckon with when it comes to launch the ball in the air. The batsman has proved his mettle in Test matches for India with an average of 49.71 in 9 matches, however, he wasn't given much of a chance in ODIs. In IPL 2019, Pant also showed that he can take the team home, something that the selectors expressed doubts about. In all likelihood, things will go in Pant's favour. However, it remains to be seen what the skipper Virat Kohli and selectors will be looking at.
File Photo: Prithvi Shaw . Photo: PTI2) Prihvi Shaw: Another young gun in India's arsenal is the promising right-handed batsman, Prithvi Shaw, whose technique with the bat has attracted applause from even legends like Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly in the cricket circuit. It could well be a dream start for Shaw if he gets a call up to play in the World Cup, but his chances look slim due to a lack of ODI exposure.
Ambati Rayudu. Photo:PTI3) Ambati Rayudu: If there is one person who needs to remove his 3-D glasses, it is Ambati Rayudu because the batsman, who has both experience and exposure to big leagues, can actually see a change in fortunes after the unfortunate exclusion of Dhawan. Rayudu has played 55 ODIs for India with 1,694 runs at an average of 47.05, including three centuries in his kitty. Rayudu was one of the contenders for number four position but the selectors decided to go with all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
Ajinkya Rahane4) Ajinkya Rahane: If Virat Kohli decides to play safe, then Ajinkya Rahane could just be the player he would think of at this crucial juncture. Rahane is all about sheer class and he could prove to be handy in England where timing matters most. Rahane had a decent show in World Cup 2015 and he could be one of the options Kohli and selectors might look at. The one thing that will back Rahane’s inclusion will be his recent performance in County cricket. He has scored a patient 119 off 260 balls for Hampshire on May 23 and will be useful for India cricket team at number 4 in overcast conditions.