Home > Features >

Time for Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan to make way for Gautam Gambhir?

© Getty Images
Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Rohit Sharma  struggled to score freely in South Africa as well as in  New Zealand © Getty Images

By Sudatta Mukherjee

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan came together as an opening combination during ICC Champions Trophy 2013 and made a big splash instantly. They unquestionably raised visions of being worthy successors to the Virender Sehwag-Gautam Gambhir tandem. However, since the start of the tour of South Africa, their slump is copious cause for worry to the team, which has been denied the platform that is expected from openers.

India is left with five One-Day International (ODI) series before the ICC World Cup 2015. They play the Asia Cup, Bangladesh, West Indies, England, and have a tri-series involving Australia and England. One cannot read too much into the series against Bangladesh and West Indies as they will be played in the Indian sub-continent, where conditions will be far different from that in Australia. The real test will come when they play against Australia and England.

If India have to make any changes at the top, they should do it now before they play against Bangladesh and West Indies.

Dhawan’s last five One-Day International (ODI) scores read: 119, 12, 0, 32 and 12. The 119 came at Nagpur against a weak West Indies. Rohit’s last six ODI scores read:  12, four, 18, 19, three, and 20.

Even Mahendra Singh Dhoni has expressed his concern about the underperforming Indian opening pair. After the second ODI against New Zealand, Dhoni said at the presser, “When it comes to our openers, they fought out the first 10 overs, but I felt that it was very important they could have carried on for another 10-15 overs so that from the 22nd or 25th over onwards, we should have started to hit out, but it does not always go according to plan.”

After being No 1 in ODIs for almost a year, consecutive defeats have seen India lose the top ranking to Australia. However, they can win it back if Australia loses the remaining two ODIs to England and India win 3-2 against New Zealand.

The question now is: Who will replace the openers? Even one of the two between Rohit and Dhawan? The best choice is Gautam Gambhir, who has performed well in the domestic cricket. Gambhir’s experience will also be handy in a team full of raw youngsters.

The other option could be Ajinkya Rahane, who has been an opening bat for Mumbai in the domestic circuit and for most part of his career. He has also been treated as a default opener by his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, Rajasthan Royals. For both Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals, Rahane has flourished in that position. In the last two editions of the IPL, he has accumulated 1048 runs at a brilliant average of 34.85, comprising four fifties — all this at a strike rate of over 100.

With Dhawan and Rohit looking the part for most part of the last year or so and Yuvraj Singh not being able to cement the No 4 slot since returning from fitness issues, Rahane got a chance to prove his class in the middle order. He looked good and timed the ball quite well during his 36 off 42 balls in the second ODI against the Kiwis, but the Indian think-tank will be aware of the fact that his talent can be used at the top of the order as well.

With the World Cup just a year away, India would ideally like too much experimentation with the critical opening slots. And if they must, they should bring back the experienced Gambhir or a groom Rahane for that role. Dhoni, as we know, doesn’t like to shuffle too much with his teams, and may look towards Rahane as an opener — but only in dire situations.

But even the Indian captain will find it extremely difficult to keep shutting the door on Gambhir, if Dhawan and Rohit fail to arrest their slump.

The next three ODIs will shed some light on the same subject, and so will the upcoming Asia Cup and other overseas series ahead.

Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Colombo

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (12:00 IST)   at Dhaka

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

More

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Chittagong

Bangladesh won by 68 runs

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 23, 2014  at Sydney

Australia won by 2 wickets (D/L method)

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 22, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 21, 2014  at Dambulla

Match abandoned without a ball being bowled

Photos

Australia vs South Africa 2014, 5th ODI at Sydney

Videos

AB de Villiers: Disappointed with defeat in Australia

Cricket Australia’s marketing gimmick strips umpires of their independence

Live Updates: IPL 2013 spot-fixing and betting scandal hearing in Supreme Court: BCCI is killing the game, says Supreme Court

Australia’s top form in ODIs: Early warning for teams heading to ICC World Cup 2015

Myth Busting — did Sachin Tendulkar’s rate of scoring become slower in the second half of his career?

Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina in interesting tussle ahead of India’s Test series against Australia

Australia Australia vs South Africa Australia vs South Africa 2014 Bangladesh Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 India India tour of Australia 2014-15 South Africa South Africa tour of Australia 2014 South Africa vs Australia South Africa vs Australia 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh 2014 Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh Zimbabwe vs Bangladesh 2014

Daniel Vettori set to make Test comeback in Pakistan vs New Zealand 3rd Test at Sharjah

India Women vs South Africa Women 2014: Chloe Tryon’s half-century earns Proteas two-wicket win in 1st ODI

Australia vs India 2014: Michael Clarke could miss 1st Test if he is unable to start running by November 26

N Srinivasan makes quick visit to Padmanabhaswamy temple

Ranji Trophy 2014-15: Jharkhand announce probables

The first match at the Melbourne Cricket Club

IPL 2013 spot-fixing controversy: N Srinivasan increasingly cornered by Supreme Court’s observations

India vs Australia 2014: Are India as bad overseas as they are made out to be?

Cricket Australia’s marketing gimmick strips umpires of their independence

Australia’s top form in ODIs: Early warning for teams heading to ICC World Cup 2015

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

681 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Virat Kohli vs Australian cricketers

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

Here’s why Shahid Kapoor is the perfect find for the Magadheera remake!

4 signs you have vitamin K deficiency

Dilip Kumar dead, claim people on Twitter!

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Week by Week Pregnancy Guide – Week 25 of your pregnancy

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here