It was The Oval in 2013, and Shikhar Dhwan had just put an average West Indies attack to the sword.
The flamboyant left-hander smashed his second ODI century at this very ground as the Indian juggernaut was rolling on day-by-day, match-by-match in the ICC Champion’s Trophy.
Fast forward 14 months.
It’s the The Oval again, and Dhawan is not even good enough to be picked up in the playing-eleven. Cooling his heels off in the dressing room, he would have been restless to go out and score some runs as India kick-start the build up to the ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia in 2015.
Last June, Dhawan set the Champions Trophy on fire in the country where now he is struggling for runs. He has been found wanting for majority of the English summer,
Dhawan’s scores outside sub continent read a disappointing: 32, 12 , 28, 9,12, 0, which are way too poor for an opening batsman.
What works for Dhawan
Dhoni, but, has more than one reason to retain the Delhi southpaw.
Besides having the experience of playing in England, Dhawan’s aggression can’t be ruled out. Remember what Sehwag used to do to the opposition.
Dhawan is a player who can turn the match situation against the run of play with his strokeplay. Dhawan, who might lack the technical precision like a Rahane or Rohit, but has the ability to make up for it with his brutal batting and irreverence towards the world’s best bowlers, and if the situation demands, he can well partner a far composed Rahane at the top.
After losing the Test series, the last thing India would want is another sluggish start at Bristol. Whether Dhoni wants to gamble a new combination at the top or he wants to get in with Champions trophy victor Shikhar Dhawan, that’s something we will find in a day’s time.
Written By: Saikat Ghosh