During the recently held three-day practice match against Essex, Team India opener Shikhar Dhawan got out on duck in both the innings. Dhawan’s mode of dismissals have once again raised a question about his place in the Test playing XI outside Asia.
In contrast to his outstanding Test average in Asia (61 in 16 Tests with 6 centuries), Shikhar averages a mere 28 in 14 Tests outside the subcontinent.
Considering the disparity in Dhawan’s home and away record and his faulty technique against the moving ball, legendary India captain Sourav Ganguly believes that KL Rahul should be preferred over the southpaw in the forthcoming Test series against England.
“Shikhar Dhawan's history on overseas pitches hasn't been very impressive. He goes overseas, fails to perform and gets dropped after a few Test matches. He has played amazing cricket in the subcontinent and recently scored a century against Afghanistan before lunch. But he needs to perform overseas as well,” Ganguly told India TV.
“KL Rahul, on the other hand, has scored a hundred in Australia, played well in South Africa and West Indies too. I like him technically and he has been successful overseas. I'll be surprised if India choose not to open with Murali Vijay and KL Rahul in the first Test,” he added.
While outrightly snubbed Dhawan from his playing eleven for the Edgbaston Test, former India opener still Sehwag still sees some hope in the left-handed batsman.
Sehwag mentioned Dhawan’s blazing century against Afghanistan last month and also pointed out that it’s not fair to drop a player on the basis of a practice match.
Besides Dhawan, India’s seasoned Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara also failed to make a mark in the warm-up match against Essex, scoring 1 and 23 runs in two innings.
“This is Pujara’a second tour of England, so he'll get to learn a lot. Ajinkya Rahane and Murali Vijay were the only successful batsmen on India's last tour of England. I strongly believe that both Pujara and Dhawan will perform better this time in England. Dhawan will have to score this time because as Dada said, ‘if you don’t make runs overseas, you won't get home series either’,” Sehwag opined.
Talking about Pujara, Ganguly said: “Pujara is not in good form. He recently played county cricket and his average was just 13-14. However, in his last Test at the Wanderers, where India won the third Test, he scored a fifty. He has a century in South Africa to his name. He hasn't been up to the mark in England but has played better than Dhawan in countries like South Africa, West Indies and England.”
India squad for first three Tests against England:
Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami