Selectors issued maiden call-up to youngsters Umran Malik and Arshdeep Singh for the just-concluded home series against South Africa, while old-horse Dinesh Karthik and injury-ravaged Hardik Pandya also made a return to the Twenty20 fold. But Shikhar Dhawan was among the notable omissions from the five-game assignment against the Proteas that ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
The 36-year-old Dhawan enjoyed another consistent run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) where he scored 460 runs in 14 games for Punjab Kings. He had gathered 587 last season and 618 the year before that.
Despite being among the runs and leading India on a tour of Sri Lanka last year, Dhawan did not find a place in the last T20 World Cup squad. It’s no secret that there is intense competition for each spot on the national side. Dhawan has IPL runs under his belt but does that boost his chances of making a return to the T20 set-up?
Legendary Sunil Gavaskar doesn’t see Dhawan making a comeback, especially after his omission from the home T20 series against South Africa. The former India skipper had a blunt response to whether Dhawan ends up getting the nod for the T20 showpiece event in Australia. Since his debut in 2010, the left-handed opener has played 34 Tests, 149 ODIs and 68 T20s for India. He has also got seven consecutive IPL seasons with 400-plus runs.
“No. I don’t see his name popping up. If it had to pop up, it would have been in this squad. A lot of guys have gone to England and he could have been in this squad. If he is not in this squad, I don’t see him ending in the mix (for T20 World Cup),” Gavaskar said in an interaction on Star Sports during the game.
Gavaskar further picked Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul as India’s two openers for the T20 spectacle. While all-format skipper Rohit took a break following the end of the IPL, Rahul was set to feature in the South Africa T20s before a groin injury ruled him out of the series.
“My opening combination would have KL Rahul if he’s fit and Rohit Sharma alongside him,” adding the batting great.
Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith also echoed the same sentiment and said the Indian pair has been ‘outstanding’ in the role.
“I will go with Sunny. They are outstanding players. Rahul and Rohit have done the business consistently and they are outstanding at the top of the order for India,” agreed Smith.