LONDON: Shikhar Dhawan is out of the World Cup. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who injured himself during last Sunday’s win over Pakistan at Old Trafford, cannot bowl for a week more, at the least, and is targeting the June 30 clash against England for a comeback. On Wednesday, Vijay Shankar was hit on the toe during training at Southampton.
Suddenly, and slightly threateningly, there is a bit of a question mark over India at the ICC Cricket World Cup when it comes to injuries.
Injuries and niggles are part of the game, but in the matter of a few days, this Indian team has lost a prolific opener for the rest of the tournament, its most successful pace bowler for at least two matches and potentially its preferred No 4 batsman, who also took two wickets in the win over Pakistan, for the next game.
No cause for alarm, entirely, but you have to ask the question: what if Bhuvneshwar – with a history of injuries – does not recover before the knockouts?
Jasprit Bumrah, who on Saturday will be partnered by Mohammed Shami in place of Bhuvneshwar, said that India had no option but to move forward from losing Dhawan.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate,” he exclaimed on Thursday. “He played really good innings against Australia, he’s a very important member. He’s been doing well for so many years, integral part especially in ICC tournaments, his record is also very good. But we’ve got a lot of faith in ourselves, we’ve got a good balance.
Till around a week ago, Rishabh Pant was not a part of India’s World Cup squad. It was after Shikhar Dhawan fractured his thumb during the course of his magnificent century against Australia, that Pant had to be flown in as cover.
And after Dhawan was ruled out of the tournament for good, Pant found a permanent place in the squad.
“When I didn’t get selected, I thought may be I didn’t do something right, so I became more positive and focused on how to improve myself. Then I did well in IPL. Then I kept practising,” Pant told India spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in a video posted by BCCI.
Given the aggressive nature of his batting, Pant is touted to play a role for India against Afghanistan.
“It is one dream for all to make India win. When I came to know that I have been called to England as a back-up, my mother was with me. So I told her, she went to the temple and paid her offerings.”
There is no doubt that he can hit the ball hard. But whether he has the perfect temperament for 50-over cricket is a debate that has been on for a while now.
“As a cricketer, I always wanted to play a World Cup and perform there and now that I have got this opportunity, I am feeling very happy,” he added.
With his recent exploits, Pant automatically walks into India’s playing XI for Tests and T20s. But ODI cricket requires a fine balance and each player has a role, is that something that he’ll defy? only time will tell.