Shikhar Dhawan sustained another injury while fielding at cover in the third and final ODI against Australia. He was only making his way back to International after recovering from a knee injury which he suffered in November last year. He is 34 years old and well past the conventional peak years of a cricketer. 28-32 are considered to be the 5 best years in a cricketer’s career when he/she is at the peak of his powers. Beyond that point, their form and fitness both take a dip.
Same is happening with Indian opener who got injured for third time in last 6 months. While the first one was due to the impact with the ball where Dhawan had no control over a steep delivery of Pat Cummins, the second and third injury goes on to show the decline in his fitness level. Combine it with his not so good form and you could also say that there is not much of International cricket left in him now. Not that he is going to retire tomorrow but he must consider himself lucky if he manages to play for more than 2 years from today.
- Got hit on thumb while playing a Pat Cummins ball in the World Cup 2019, missed the World Cup
- Dived to make his crease in a Domestic match for Delhi, suffers Deep cut in Knee and misses the West Indies series
- Tumbles to stop a ball while fielding, hurts his shoulder and now set to miss New Zealand series
This is how Shikhar Dhawan’s timeline in last few months looks like. If not for a supportive captain ( at least in his case ), it would’ve been very easy to write him off at this point when his form has been up and down like KL Rahul’s batting positions and body being as fragile as a radical feminist’s ego (No offence to the moderate ones & no lack of empathy for Dhawan is meant here).
Unlucky yet lucky Dhawan
While you could call him nothing but ‘ Unlucky ‘ because of all the injuries he has had in last 6 months, he hasn’t completely run out of luck. Take his replacements for example.
We will only talk about ODIs because in T20s, he strangely gets replaced by middle order batsmen who possess no threat whatsoever to his place in the side.
Dhawan was a definite starter in the XI before getting injured for the first time. No matter how little runs he scored, he would’ve got most of the games in the World Cup. Coming back to reality from a hypothetical situation, he did score a free flowing 100 against Australia in the same game where he got hit. Rishabh Pant replaced him and KL Rahul was asked to open. Although Rahul did a decent job in his absence, he never quite had the same impact at the top of the order. He played a second fiddle to Rohit Sharma throughout the tournament which is shown by his strike rate of 77 although India never faced any issues in their batting until the semi-final.
In order to make his crease, Dhawan attempted a very rough dive injuring his knee in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy match just before the West Indies series. BCCI named Mayank Agarwal as his replacement. However, it was pretty obvious that Mayank wouldn’t be getting any game in the presence of Rahul and Rohit. This time though, Rahul did make it count by scoring a century and a half century in the 3 Match series. He ended the series with 185 runs at an average of 61 but his strike rate of 89 was more impressive.
At this time, it looked like Rahul will possess a serious threat to Dhawan for the second opener when he will come back. Some believed he might even dethrone the king but he couldn’t. Dhawan’s place was still secure and it was Rahul who was going Up and Down like an elevator with the team management deciding which button to press according to the demand.
This was the softest of all the injuries. Dhawan made a tumbling stop in a harmless way and yet got his shoulder hurt. He could not bat in the last ODI at Bengaluru and probably won’t be batting for a long time now. Prithvi Shaw has been called to replace the injured opener. He might be possessing a plethora of talent, debut series is never easy for any player. Even if you look at the flip side, i.e, in a hypothetical situation in which he gets a lot of runs, there is no guarantee that he will get to hold his place once Dhawan is deemed fit again. It will be extremely naive of people to expect Shaw to provide a healthy competition to Dhawan for the second opener
In short, Shikhar Dhawan keeps losing and winning at the same time. His teammates might have named him ‘ Gabbar ‘ but he also defines the Baazigar movie dialogue perfectly in his life.