Why does the axe have to fall on Shikhar Dhawan? Asks VVS Laxman

Former India batsman VVS Laxman has questioned the decision to drop Shikhar Dhawan  for the ongoing Lord’s Test against England, while arguing that he looked the most “confident” if India’s top-order batsmen during the defeat at Edgbaston.

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Dhawan was included as opening partner to Murali Vijay in Birmingham, despite facing four deliveries and failing to score in either innings of India’s tour match against a second string Essex. He made 26 and 13 in the first Test, both times guilty of driving at wide deliveries and edging to second slip and the wicketkeeper.

At  Lord’s, he was dropped to accommodate Cheteshwar Pujara at No 3, with KL Rahul promoted a spot up to open the innings with Vijay. At the time of publishing, India were 11/2 before rain interrupted play, with Vijay out for 0 and Rahul dismissed for 8.

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“Every batsman failed [at Edgbaston] barring Virat Kohli. If you compare Rahul, Vijay and Dhawan, Dhawan looked the most confident. His footwork was more precise,” Laxman told ESPNcricinfo. “But probably he gets the axe because of the way he gets out. As a stroke-player, you expect sometimes while playing shots to get out in a certain fashion. Sehwag was like that. Whenever Sehwag got out, it looked bad. But that is also their strength.”

READ: Dhawan will struggle in overseas Tests unless he changes approach: Gavaskar

Since the start of 2015, in Test matches outside of Asia, Virat Kohli is India’s most successful batsman with 931 runs at an average of 66.50. Of the current top four, the next best is Rahul with 417 at 34.75, with two hundreds, followed by Vijay (215 at 17.91, one fifty) and Dhawan (209 at 26.12, one fifty). While assessing such numbers, Laxman wondered why Dhawan was the first name to be questioned when India’s batsmen failed collectively.

“I am really surprised at why the axe has to fall on Shikhar Dhawan and not the other batsmen. When the numbers say that its not only Dhawan who has been struggling since 2015 overseas, its all the top four batsmen. Yes, he didn’t have the numbers backing him but neither did the other three batsmen,” he said.