Explained: Why Shikhar Dhawan’s T20I Career Got Over

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Explained: Why Shikhar Dhawan’s T20I Career Got Over

Shikhar Dhawan

It was not at all far-fetched when some fans had been suggesting India recall Shikhar Dhawan in the T20 setup as the T20 World Cup 2022 squad selection loomed while KL Rahul remained sidelined because of injuries and his opening replacements, Ishan Kishan and Ruturaj Gaikwad, didn’t give much confidence in their recent outing for India.

However, if anyone who had been following how the selection works and given the number of alternatives (irrespective of their age or quality) - you would know that Dhawan’s T20I career was already over long before KL Rahul got injured after the IPL 2022, before the home South Africa T20I series.

If you’ve been ignored previous signals - India tried Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav as T20I openers in England and West Indies, respectively, but didn’t turn their head toward Dhawan who was on both these tours for ODI series.

So when and how did Shikhar Dhawan’s T20I career got finished?

And just like that, he was dropped, after one bad outing - 4 runs off 12 balls against Jofra Archer and Mark Wood in a T20I in Ahmedabad in March, 2021.

But, I feel, Dhawan wasn’t dropped just because he’d had a bad game; that can happen to anybody - KL Rahul scored 1 run in that game and further had a horrible series, but was backed straightaway after another big IPL season.

Shikhar Dhawan
Image Source - Aaj Tak

But also because India desperately wanted to try out Ishan Kishan as an opener; with the T20 World Cup closing in and little international white-ball matches to play, India wanted to fix down a back-up opener to Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul. Dhawan gets dropped, Kishan comes in the next match and smashes a match-winning fifty on debut - there’s your back-up opener who goes to the T20 World Cup in the UAE as well.

After being dropped after the first T20I of that series vs England, Dhawan is benched for the next four, and that’s that of his T20I career, many felt; I did too. Dhawan, however, did get to play 3 more T20I - in July vs Sri Lanka - but that was when most players were in England for Test matches and Dhawan, being a senior player, was given the captaincy duties to lead a second-string side in Sri Lanka.

There, the left-hander registered scores of 43, 40 and 0. And, I reckon, doesn’t matter even if he would have plundered double of those runs - Dhawan was not coming back in the picture. That was his last T20I for India, and barring a miracle, it will remain as that.

Shikhar Dhawan’s IPL numbers have been ignored by the selectors

501, 479, 497, 521, 618, 587, 460. While this may seem similar to KL Rahul’s numbers - or a bit inferior - but these are Shikhar Dhawan’s runs tally in the past 7 IPL seasons. Only a handful of batsmen have been so consistent at amassing such numbers in the IPL history; when it comes to left-handed openers, nobody barring Gayle and Warner have such imposing numbers as Dhawan’s.

Yet, for the past four-five years, Dhawan’s place in the T20I side had remained insecure, uncertain, with the calls of KL Rahul - and his class, elegance, towering IPL numbers even when the strike rate has received criticism - hasn’t let Dhawan breathe better and have the freedom, the security that the other seniors have had in the Indian setup; or the faith that young openers have been trusted with.

Unfair - but, hey, that’s life.