Veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan’s ODI future is likely to be discussed by the new selection committee, which is expected to be formed soon, and a tough call will not be a surprise after Ishan Kishan emerged as a strong option with his scintillating double hundred. Dhawan has struggled badly in eight out of his last nine ODIs. Also, the Delhi left-hander batted with a dated approach which is proving to be detrimental for the team during the Powerplay overs. It is not always about intent but also the inability to force the pace with a limited range of strokes to choose from. Shubman Gill or a Kishan are more innovative in this day and age of T20s.
While no date has been given, the BCCI will hold a review meeting of the team’s performance and discuss the roadmap with head coach Dravid and NCA head VVS Laxman on the way ahead.
As it was reported by PTI during the T20 World Cup in Australia, a source confirmed that the process of phasing out the senior players will start from the next year.
“A call on Shikhar’s future will only be taken after new selection committee is appointed. But head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit Sharma’s views can’t be ignored,” a senior BCCI source privy to developments told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
The primary problem with Dhawan has been a sharp decline in his strike-rate from 100 plus till 2019 World Cup to a dismal 75 in 2022.
After Ishan Kishan’s double hundred and more importantly, the freshness that he has brought in the approach, will certainly make the team management ponder over the sensitive selection matters.
It is not easy to discard a player who has played 167 ODIs and is currently third highest (6793) in the list of current India run-getters behind Rohit (9454) and Virat Kohli (12471).
There is a school of thought that Dhawan be given at least the last six ODIs in January against Sri Lanka and New Zealand and then take a call before the Australia ODIs at the end of March.
But the counter-argument to that is what happens when Shubman Gill, who has been one of the most consistent ODI batters in last six months, is back in the ODI fold in January.
For some strange reason, the outgoing committee led by Chetan Sharma, decided to rest Gill from the Bangladesh ODIs despite that the young batter hasn’t had much of workload as he was not even a part of Asia Cup or T20 World Cup squad.
There weren’t any Test matches held after the one against England in July.
When batters like Gill and Kishan are waiting in the wings, it’s difficult to keep them in the dug-out for too long. Also, Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli can’t play in the same ODI XI just like Rohit, KL Rahul and Kohli can’t be top three in T20Is.
Kohli, it has been observed in recent times, loves playing the anchor role more often than not with a designated enforcer at the other end doing the front-loading or heavy-lifting.
Even skipper Rohit could play his own attacking game if a player like Gill or Kishan is holding the fort at the other end.
Dhawan also plays a game style where he makes a cautious start and accelerates only deep into the middle overs, making up for the dot balls consumed.
That kind of conservative style has been hurting India for sometime and England has been showing that now is the time for the change in approach.
Hence it would be increasingly difficult for Dhawan to keep his place in the ODI set-up.
Another aspect that would bother the decision-makers is that apart from ODIs, he isn’t playing any format. While he did play one domestic T20 (Syed Mushtaq Ai Trophy) and two 50-over games (Vijay Hazare), Dhawan hasn’t played any first-class games for the last four years.
“There is no substitute of game time. Do you mean to say that Shikhar will start playing ODIs in mid-January without any match practice for next one month. Even Surya is committed to playing Ranji Trophy games for Mumbai as he wants to be in groove.
“You can understand when he is playing multi-formats. So on what basis will you choose him,” a former national selector, who has worked with both MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, said.
Mostly separate squads expected for ODIs and T20Is
India have a packed calendar starting with the home season from January 3.
While there is a lot of curiosity on Rohit’s future as T20I captain and Hardik Pandya’s imminent ascendancy, the way BCCI functions, one might not see any decision being taken but a silent phase out process could be followed.
Between January 3 and February 1, India play 12 white ball matches in a space of 29 days, including six against New Zealand and six against Sri Lanka.
Six ODIs and as many T20Is are in 12 different cities, which also means 12 different flights. While travelling is an underrated aspect of workload management, it is expected that T20Is and ODIs will have at least 75 to 80 per cent different names.
The ODI squad may have players who the team management thinks are going to play in the 2023 edition.
“Why do you need to announce Rohit’s removal from T20I captaincy? Are T20Is top priority in 2023? No. BCCI has never worked as per public sentiments. It has its own style of functioning,” said a BCCI old-timer.
“But yes, you can easily ask Rohit, Virat and KL Rahul to focus on ODIs and Test series against Australia which are more important for the time being and let Hardik lead in the six T20Is.”
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