6 Batsmen in the Race for Shikhar’s Dhawan’s Opening Spot

Shikhar Dhawan’s form in T20s has been under the scanner for quite some time now. While he has been putting up some impressive performances, his strike-rate and consistency have been questioned. His consistency issues with the bat have come up during the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-over tournament) too, in which he had 4 single-digit scores followed by a massive 153. Even in the IPL 2021, though he scored 618 runs in 17 matches, this included 2 centuries. Otherwise, he had an average tournament.

This inconsistency issue has been hampering him now. While Rohit Sharma is standing tall on one end as an opener, Dhawan hasn’t been able to justify himself. While Dhawan is clearly not in the race of openers in Tests, his spot is in risk in T20s and ODIs. These 6 openers have currently kept his spot in risk.

1. KL Rahul

KL Rahul has put up some brilliant performances as an opener. While he hasn’t really cemented his spot as an opener in of the formats, you simply can’t rule him out. Not only as an opener, Rahul has also put some good performances in the 3rd and 4th positions as well as in the middle-order.

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But given that his favoured position is opening, especially in limited-over games, he is most likely to snatch the opening slot from Dhawan. Although he is enduring a poor run now, given his abilities with the bat, something big can be expected soon.

2. Mayank Agarwal

Mayank Agarwal was the player whose good form in domestic cricket cost Dhawan his spot in the Tests. Later on, though he got chances in ODIs too, Mayank couldn’t do much. But, Mayank has put up some excellent performances for the Karnataka team in domestic cricket. Not only that, he also had a good IPL 2020 as an opener for KXIP.

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Given this, there are quite a few chances for him to grab the spot of an opener in limited-overs too. If not in the main team, he can see himself as the backup opener. Currently, Mayank is just one good IPL season away from making his way into the T20 squad. A good hitter of the ball as well as the ability to play the role of an anchor, Agarwal is too in the race.

3. Ishan Kishan

Ishan Kishan came into the international team on the back of some solid performances in domestic cricket and IPL. Just like Rahul, Kishan also has the ability to bat across the batting order. To add to it, he too is a left-hander like Shikhar Dhawan and can play attacking strokes freely.

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As of now, he has got a great start as an opener and would look to continue the same. While his skills with the red-ball remain untested, him modelling his batting approach after Rohit Sharma with the white-ball will be helpful for India. If he manages to put up some good performances in the upcoming IPL 2021, he will make it into the Indian World Cup T20 squad.

4. Prithvi Shaw

Initially, Prithvi Shaw was only behind KL Rahul for the position of an opening batsman. A brilliant start to his Test career followed by a decent start to his ODI career worked in favour for him. But a bad series against Australia in Tests that exposed his technical flaws did huge damage to him.

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But he has made a great comeback in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy scoring 827 runs with a strike-rate of 138. He ended up as the highest run-scorer in the tournament and was a key contributor to Mumbai’s success. And this has put him back in the race. His attacking style of play might be something the Indian team would want to have.

5. Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill too has had a wonderful start to his Test career. Although he failed in the few chances he got as an opener in ODIs, he can’t be ruled out. Though not much an attacking batsman in T20s, he can put up good scores consistently. But in ODIs, he’ll be a great asset.

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Shubman Gill has done a great job for the Punjab domestic team in List-A cricket. If he manages to play well consistently in domestic cricket, he’ll once again make his way into the race for the opening slot.

6. Devdutt Padikkal

Devdutt Padikkal came into the limelight after a breakthrough IPL season for RCB in 2020. And post that, he has been making the right noises in the domestic circuit. While he is yet to make a mark in First-Class cricket, he has a spellbinding average of 86.68 in 20 innings for Karnataka in List-A cricket. Even in T20s, he averages a good 43.82 in 33 innings in domestic cricket.

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In the recent Vijay Hazare season, he has scored 737 runs with a strike rate of 95.96 in 7 matches. He ended up in the second spot in the list of leading run-scorers of the tournament. Given that he is also a left-handed batsman like Dhawan, there are all chances of him making his way into the Indian team.

While experience and the ability to play well in big-matches are definitely in Dhawan’s favour, there’s a lot of pressure on Dhawan to retain his spot. But given that cricket is unpredictable, a great IPL season will peg him back into the race. So will he make it to the T20 World Cup squad? It will be interesting to see that.

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