Dhawan, Hardik vie for captaincy in Sri Lanka white-ball series
India's limited overs specialists will be playing three T20I and as many ODIs in Sri Lanka
Veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan and flamboyant all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be locked in a two-way fight for India captaincy if Shreyas Iyer doesn’t recover from his injury for the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka in July.
India’s limited overs specialists will be playing three T20 Internationals and as many ODIs in the island nation during the second half of July, when big guns like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will be in England for a marquee five-match Test series.
“It is still not clear if Shreyas will recover fully and will be match-fit in time for tour of Sri Lanka. Normally, a surgery of this scale along with rest, extensive rehab and training to get back in shape takes around four months,” a senior BCCI source said.
“In case Shreyas was available, he would have been the automatic choice for captaincy.”
It’s only logical that the two contenders for captaincy are 35-year-old Dhawan, who has had good ‘one and half IPLs’ in last two seasons and Pandya junior, who is one of the most accomplished match-winners.
“Shikhar has had two very good IPL including this curtailed one and being the senior most among those who are available for selection, he is a very strong contender. Also he has been a solid performer for India for past eight years,” an official said.
As far as Hardik is concerned, his reputation as a white-ball match-winner can’t be discounted either.
“Yes, Hardik hasn’t been regularly bowling for MI or India in recent times. However, he is the man with x-factor and among options available. He is miles ahead of his peers in terms of being an impact performer. And who knows, may be extra responsibility brings the best out of him.”
Pandya was included in the four-Test series at home against England so that his bowling workload is increased keeping the England tour in mind but it is learnt that the Baroda man is unlikely to bowl more than an odd over or two in the shortest format or ODI in near future.
“Hardik, after his back surgery to cure stress fracture, is not the same bowler anymore. He was a fast medium bowler before injury but to bowl at a brisk 135 kmph plus pace consistently, it could impact his back.
“So he is focusing more on his match finishing skills,” a BCCI sourse said.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Prithvi Shaw and Ishan Kishan could be in the white-ball squad in Sri Lanka.
It is natural that some of the players who have performed in limited overs cricket for India and in the IPL recently will be picked.
Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav, who both did well for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020, and also in the white-ball series against England at home, could be in the squad.
Among youngsters who have burst onto the scene through IPL, spinner Rahul Chahar and left-arm pace bowler Chetan Sakariya could find a place in the Indian team. Rahul’s cousin Deepak Chahar could also make the cut.
Sakariya impressed for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL edition this time, picking seven wickets in seven matches.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Karnataka opener Devdutt Padikkal is likely to be one of the three openers India will travel with besides Dhawan and Shaw.
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