The Indian team management prefers to wait on opener Shikhar Dhawan’s injury than rule him out of the World Cup, said Team India assistant coach Sanjay Bangar ahead of the match against New Zealand. He said by the time India play against Afghanistan on June 22, it will be clear whether Dhawan is fit to carry on.
Dhawan will miss three to four games due to the hairline fracture on his left thumb and Rishabh Pant will join the team as cover in Manchester ahead of the clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
“As far as Shikhar is concerned, we'll be observing him, and around the 10th or 12th day, we'll get to know where he stands, and we'll be in a better position to take a call because we don't want to rule out a precious player like Shikhar.” Bangar said that Dhawan will be definitely missed in the next games since he is the only southpaw in the team. “It's always an advantage to have a left-right combination right at the top of the order. But we have quality players [to replace him]. So, Shikhar will definitely be missed in the next three to four games, but we have a great backup for each position.”
Expectedly, Bangar confirmed that K.L. Rahul, who had originally been drafted into the squad as the third opener but has successfully played at the number four position in the first two World Cup matches, will fill in for the injured Dhawan. “As far as the batting order goes, yes, KL moves up to the top of the order. There are various options the team management can utilise going into the next game. Obviously, Vijay Shankar is going to be an option, but there are a couple of others as well.”
If the match does take place in spite of rains being predicted on Thursday, then there is a possibility that the Indian team could even pick Dinesh Karthik or Mohammed Shami at the cost of one full time spinner given the seamer-friendly conditions.
Wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant has been announced as a cover for Dhawan. He is expected to join the team ahead of India’s next match against Pakistan in Manchester on June 16.
Bangar dismissed any concerns regarding lack of practice due to rain. While the Kiwis had indoor nets on Tuesday and Wednesday, Team India cancelled its practice due to rain at the Trent Bridge on Tuesday and today. As drizzle stopped briefly, an optional practice took place outdoors. “We've had a fair time to prepare ourselves because we spent a lot of time before our first match, and that was an advantage. What's fortunate is that everybody's got to bat and bowl. And it isn't necessary that you come to the nets every day. At times, if you miss practice because of weather or something, it's still fine.”
Bangar said the bowlers, too, were in good rhythm and the team did not want to risk them at practice in the slippery conditions.