LIVE Cricket Score, india vs New Zealand, india vs New Zealand live score, ind vs nz 1st test, ind vs nz live score, india vs New Zealand live streaming, India Vs New Zealand Highlights, India Zealand Kanpur
Shikhar Dhawan’s exclusion has brought out a wonderful opportunity for Rohit Sharma © AFP

After a satisfactory Test series in West Indies, India‘s left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan, managed to find a place in the Indian squad for the Tests against New Zealand at home, but could not feature in the starting XI for the first Test. India went in with KL Rahul and Murali Vijay as openers and with Rohit Sharma, at No.6, the hosts strengthened their batting order. While Rahul looked aggressive in his approach and scored a 32 off 39, in a more ODI sort of approach, before getting out to Mitchell Santner, his sudden rise to glory, has helped him earn Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble‘s faith for sure. The question that now arises is — Have the seeds been sown for Shikhar’s way out of the Test team?

Just 138 runs in the Caribbean, before being dropped for the final Test in Port of Spain, and just 150 runs in the Test series last year against South Africa at home, is where Dhawan has fallen short. The stats speak for themselves. He has been inconsistent, and he knows it. With Vijay on the other hand, having to cope up with a few injuries, and Rahul getting a chance to step in the side, all the latter needed was to make it count. Rahul not only made it count, he was flawlessly attractive while making it count. That made the equation for Dhawan, almost like ‘Survival of the fittest’. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: India vs New Zealand, 1st Test at Kanpur

He then had a chance to spend some time in the middle, in the Duleep Trophy 2016-17 Final, earn back his lost form, show a bit of consistency, but he failed yet again. He, after his team India Red lost though, did say that it was a useful outing for him. But the task ahead of him was huge. READ: India vs New Zealand: Shikhar Dhawan’s final chance to prove his worth?

He has not lost the battle either. Yes he has been dropped for the first Test, but you cannot count him out so easily, for we all know Dhawan loves facing challenges, and coming out on top; his celebrations say it all. “I feel my motivation always increases even when things don’t go well for me. Sure, it does hurt me, but I channel the hurt to keep getting better; I don’t let it bog me down. That’s how I work,” he said before the New Zealand series started. READ: India’s 500th Test: CricLife’s all-time XI

Dhawan was wary of the opening slot competition that has intensified, and he was willing to fight it out for his spot. “It is a good thing. Jaan lagaani hai, dum lagaana hai apni jagah rakhne ke liye [One needs to give it one’s all to keep one’s place in the side],” he said. Not that he has given up by any sorts, but Dhawan would have expected to get an opportunity and stamp his authority in the very first Test itself, to claim he is game. What he would have also liked, just like any other Indian batsman was to score a big one, in India’s 500th Test, when all eyes are watching. It didn’t happen that way though. READ: India’s 500-Test history: 10 lowest points

Perhaps, Kohli and Kumble’s choice to go in with Rohit at No.6, cost Dhawan his position. Rohit has been constantly getting support from the selectors and the decision-makers in the team, despite failing on most occasions. Kohli believes Rohit’s batting can win sessions for India and the idea has been to give him a longer run in the format. BCCI selector Sandeep Patil while naming the squad for the Test series had said, “Rohit is a fabulous player, immense talent he has got. But he hasn’t got a longer run in Tests. What we have seen is that he has been picked for one Test and then rested and then again picked. So everybody feels that whoever gets picked will be given a fair amount of chances.” READ: VVS Laxman: India can make 500th Test memorable by going one-up against New Zealand

What needs to be noted here is that, its a perform or perish series for both Dhawan and Rohit. Both have struggled to meet expectations, one at the top of the order and the other lower down. The stats are not at all in support of both of them. The performances have been mediocre. While Dhawan has either succumbed early in his innings or given it away after a good start; Rohit has lacked application and has not adapted well to Tests. Both therefore, have to prove their worth. READ: India vs New Zealand: Perform or Perish scenario for Rohit Sharma

Rohit, had a chance to get off to a rollicking start to the series, but then his patience ran out, yet again. The same old story repeated, in India’s first innings. He got off to a start, looked promising, then gifted his wicket to the visitors on a plate. His 35 odd runs could have so easily been more, surely more than a fifty. But that didn’t happen. Of course it’s a Test match and Rohit will have a second innings to make amends. But the question is, will he learn from his mistake? We will have to see.

Meanwhile, Rahul who has earned the right to open the innings, with back-to-back hundreds in different countries, is an exciting player. What also needs to discussed, is the fact that Rahul was aggressive in his time at time at the crease. He looked comfortable, played shots on the merit, was surely a delight to watch, but missed out; although he began where he left. Interestingly, what had brought India success in Tests when they became No.1 was Virender Sehwag’s free-flowing bat. Sehwag didn’t let the opposition bowlers make most of the first hour of play then. The ‘new-ball swinging’ advantage was nullified to a great extent by him. Dhawan has tried to do that on occasions, but failed; will be interesting to see how Rahul goes about it. He (Rahul) is certainly going through a fantastic phase and that too, quite early in his career.

Nevertheless, in between all the ins and outs, it is important not to tinker the batting order much. India have tried a few different things, and the experiment has been that successful. In Test cricket, a stable batting order is key, guarantees runs. Also, any batsman, who bats at a particular position in Tests, is a specialist at that position, he comes into the team after excelling at that position. Shuffling the batting order, might make a batsman inconsistent which could subsequently make it more riskier for a team. It could also spoil a player’s career run graph. India should avoid doing that.

Nonetheless, all Dhawan would be itching for is a chance, an opportunity to take back what was his. What would be needed from him would be nothing short of a century perhaps. What would send a strong message would be something like his Test debut hundred against Australia. Something like — ‘Let the world know what I am made up of’, would do the trick. But that, would only come if he features in the next two Tests.

(Karan Dewana reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)