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India’s loss in the second Test of the series Down Under at the Gabba in Brisbane had a familiar tone to it — the team collapsing after finding themselves in a promising position from where they could have pushed for a win. But, there was one variation, Shikhar Dhawan, who was possibly batting for his place in the team, managed to register his first half-century of the series, a fluent one, which helped give the faltering Indian total some sort of respectability. There was a catch though. In spite of being the overnight ‘not out’ batsman, Shikhar Dhawan did not come out to bat immediately. Instead, he came in at the fall of MS Dhoni’s wicket, and by that time the match had slipped out of India’s grasp.
Above photo: BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 20: Shikhar Dhawan of India bats during day four of the 2nd Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba on December 20, 2014 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
For the record, Shikhar Dhawan made a fluent 81, and during his stay at the crease, he looked rather comfortable out in the middle. In spite of being injured, he came out to bat and helped the team give his bowlers something to bowl at. But, there is another angle to it as well. In spite of being injured, the left-hander did not look in any sort of discomfort during his stay out in the middle. Considering this fact, people would definitely be forced to ask, shouldn’t Shikhar Dhawan have resumed his innings earlier in the day? This was the first time Shikhar Dhawan actually looked in control out in the middle. But, there is another aspect to that as well. By the time he came in, the pitch had eased out with the Kookaburra ball getting softer and thus making batting simpler.
Without taking much away from Shikhar Dhawan, it must be mentioned that the batsman had it a bit easy as opposed to the earlier games, where he was facing the full fury of the Aussie attack. Also, it must be noted that apart from the 81 at Brisbane, ‘Gabbar Singh’ Shikhar Dhawan has done precious little to justify his place in the Test team. If you look at his record since the 115 and 98 in New Zealand, he has scored 12, 29, 7, 31, 6 and 37 in the three Tests in England. In Australia, the south-paw made 25, 9 and 24 in the three innings before registering his career-saving 81. After the sensational debut at home against Australia, Shikhar Dhawan failed against West Indies as well. In South Africa, he managed poorer scores of 13, 15, 29 and 19.
In contrast, Shikhar Dhawan’s opening partner Murali Vijay, who had a quiet start to his Test career, has been going from strength to strength. Murali Vijay came close to registering a hundred at Durban in South Africa and, emboldened by the success, has compiled classy tons in England and Australia. But, India haven’t tasted success in spite of his wonderful efforts, due to the lack of support he has received from Shikhar Dhawan. Notwithstanding his last innings in Brisbane, one wonders if the time has come to look beyond Shikhar Dhawan as an opening partner for Murali Vijay.
So what can India do if it has to drop Shikhar Dhawan for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG? There is the rookie opening batsman in Lokesh Rahul who has scored plenty of runs for Karnataka and most importantly is believed to be possessing a far superior and compact technique for an opener compared to what Shikhar Dhawan has. There are other options like Ajinkya Rahane opening and drafting in Suresh Raina in the middle order.
What do you folks think? Should Lokesh Rahul open with Murali Vijay at Melbourne?