Shikhar Dhawan still an important member of ODI line-up, keep the mindset that he will open for India in 2023 World Cup, says Anjum Chopra | Cricket News


It’s not too often that you see an active cricketer who is doing consistently well in the IPL, not featuring in the scheme of things in his country’s T20I plans.
Shikhar Dhawan though has found himself in that boat since July 2021, when he last played a T20I for India against Sri Lanka in Colombo. A quick look at his IPL stats over the last 4 seasons (2019-2022) will show that he has maintained an average of over 34 every season. In fact since 2015, Shikhar hasn’t had a single IPL season where he has scored under 400 runs.
In November this year he was named the new captain of the Punjab Kings IPL franchise.
Why he is not part of India’s T20I scheme of things is a separate discussion altogether. The question being asked from certain quarters currently after his underwhelming performances with the bat in the 3 ODI series against Bangladesh is – should Shikhar Dhwan continue to be in the scheme of things as far as Indian ODI cricket is concerned? Remember, ODIs is the only format Shikhar is picked to play in these days.

One telling sign in the Bangladesh ODI series was KL Rahul being named replacement captain, when regular skipper Rohit Sharma was ruled out of the third and final ODI with a thumb injury. For the longest time, whenever the regular captain was not available for an ODI series, the selectors and team management appointed Dhawan as the captain. But not this time.
This of course came in the backdrop of Shikhar having an absolutely torrid time with the bat in Bangladesh. In 3 innings, he managed to score a paltry 18 runs, with a highest score of 8. In the ODI series at home in October vs South Africa, in which Shikhar was stand-in captain, he scored 25 runs in 3 innings.
Of late, the silver lining for him was the 3 match ODI series in New Zealand, which saw only one completed game. Dhawan batted thrice and scored 103 runs, at an average of 34.33 and a highest score of 72. He was the fourth highest run-getter in that series, behind Latham, Iyer and Gill.
So where does Dhawan realistically stand in India’s ODI pecking order? Ahead of the ODI series vs South Africa, which India won 2-1, Shikhar himself had said – “I don’t know how long I am going to play cricket, but right now my biggest goal is to play in the 2023 World Cup”.


(AFP Photo)
Former India captain Anjum Chopra was a guest on Times of India’s sports podcast Sportscast recently and talked about the importance of keeping someone like Shikhar around, especially with the global ODI showpiece event – the 50 over World Cup being played in India next year.
“The fact that he has made his intention very clear and that he has been open about it, saying – I want to be there for the ICC World Cup (2023) – that can be seen in any light. I see it in a positive light. At least the player is focussed and wants to be there at the World Cup. Look, let’s face it – whether you are playing IPL or not, whichever tournament you are playing, when you know you are only playing one format and that format comes back once in four years, in the form of a World Cup, to remain relevant for that format is not easy. And (especially) towards the latter part of your career. I am not saying end of the career, it’s the latter part of the career. And let’s not forget that from here India plays the domestic (bilateral) series against Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia and there’s the IPL as well and he (Shikhar) is the captain of his IPL team also now, so the responsibility will be there on his shoulders,” Anjum Chopra said on TOI Sportscast.
The 2023 ODI World Cup will only be played at the end of the year, next year. Before that India have a packed schedule, which will see back to back home assignments against the likes of Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Australia. Between these three series, India will play 9 ODIs. It will be very interesting to see what Shikhar Dhawan’s future looks like going into these bilateral series.


(AP Photo)
When Ishan Kishan smashed the fastest ODI double ton ever against Bangladesh recently off just 126 balls, a lot of people felt it was maybe time to look at him as Rohit Sharma’s new opening partner in ODIs. But is a knee-jerk reaction really what the new selection committee will look to take for someone who has played 167 ODIs for India?
Just a few days back a BCCI official told PTI – “A call on Shikhar’s future will be taken after the new selection committee is appointed, but Head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma’s views can’t be ignored.”
Dhawan is also the third highest ODI run-getter for India (6793 runs) on the list of active cricketers, behind only Virat Kohli (12471 runs) and Rohit Sharma (9454 runs).
“I think it’s a nice balance where Indian selectors, management can find where they are utilising his (Shikhar’s) experience, his learnings and what the team requires at this point in time. You can’t just go in with fresh legs, you want experience. We always hear the phrase – (mix of) youth and experience and I feel Indian cricket at this point in time has youth and experience. So, how we channelise that and use it to our advantage is definitely a discussion point, which I am sure people who are there (in charge) will be looking at. I wouldn’t say that Shikhar Dhawan has no place in this line-up. I would still say – keep him around. You should go with the mindset that Shikhar will be right at the top, batting for India in a World Cup. That gives positive energy, that gives (a) positive look to the team,” Anjum Chopra further said on TOI Sportscast.

The international cricket calendar has become incredibly packed and relentless these days. Every year almost seems to be a World Cup year. From 2019 to 2024 combined, there have been and will be a total of 5 World Cups, across the ODI and T20 formats.
With India again failing to clinch that elusive ICC trophy at the T20 World Cup earlier this year in Australia, fan expectations and the pressure that creates will be going through the roof at the 2023 ODI World Cup, especially because it will be played in Indian conditions. Keeping these sentiments in mind, how easy or difficult will it be for the selectors to pick the optimal squad? And just how long a rope would they be willing to give some of the senior players?
“With Rohit and Shikhar opening at the top – I see no harm in it. These are our conditions, we know them very well. Three matches that didn’t go well for Shikhar (in Bangladesh), I agree there will be questions, but then let’s face it – if we have such question marks for players, be it anyone – be it an Ishan Kishan or be it a Shikhar Dhawan, it’s really unfair. Then we are really just waiting for a player to fail to say – he should not be there, rather than waiting for a player to succeed to say – look he can add such quality. So I will say that Shikhar Dhawan is still an important member in this (India ODI) line-up. I wouldn’t want to reduce the number of options for Indian cricket going towards the World Cup, I would want to keep more and more options and the most fluent, most in form should get a go at the World Cup, ” Anjum further said on TOI Sportscast.
(You can listen to the full episode of TOI Sportscast with Anjum Chopra HERE)


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