Hoping Dhawan comes good with bat without extra responsibility of captaincy: Saba Karim

The 2022 has been a year in which Shikhar Dhawan was a regular presence in being the stand-in skipper for India in ODIs, whenever Rohit Sharma or K.L. Rahul were not present.

The veteran left-handed opener has played in 34 matches for India since the 2019 ODI World Cup ended, the most by any player from the side. But 2022 has been a year where Dhawan’s strike-rate has slowed down quite mysteriously.

In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Dhawan’s strike-rate in ODIs was 100.34, 101.37, and 102.28 respectively. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, his strike-rate was 91.81, 91.48, and 91.95 respectively. But in 19 innings of 2022, Dhawan’s strike-rate has dropped significantly to 75.11.

With India now going to face Bangladesh in the upcoming three-match ODI series, it becomes all more important for Dhawan to catch up in terms of strike-rate when he reunites with Rohit Sharma to open the batting, especially with competition for batting spots being intense.

“I think it is a very crucial series for Shikhar Dhawan. I hope that without the extra responsibility of captaincy, he will come good (with the bat). He along with Rohit Sharma set a wonderful platform for the other batters to come in. He’s been phenomenal in terms of his performances with white-ball cricket,” said Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper-batter, in a select media interaction facilitated by Sony Sports Network.

Karim believes that Dhawan’s impressive record in ICC tournaments, seen from an average of 53.70 and a strike-rate of 94.21 in World Cups, is a basis for the Indian think tank to keep faith in him.

“One should also not forget that in the ICC championships, Shikhar Dhawan has been a great performer for India. That is one reason I believe the team management and captain still back him to come good. With Rohit Sharma alongside him, I hope he turns a corner and does well for India because this right and the left-hand combination has worked quite well.”

From India’s trip to New Zealand, off-spin all-rounder Washington Sundar emerged as a bright spot in the ODI series, delivering under pressure to slam knocks of 37 not out and 51 apart from an economy rate of 4.2. Karim, a former member of the senior men’s selection committee, thinks Sundar can be a good asset for India in the lower-order.

“I would still stick at number seven for Washi (Washington) Sundar because I look at him as a bowling all-rounder, he can be a wonderful asset for the Indian side. That really lengthens the batting and helps the team to go hard in the middle overs knowing that you have Washington Sundar coming at number seven or eight, depending upon the team’s composition.”

Left-arm spin all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed, who has impressed with his consistent performances for India, Bengal and Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, is also a part of the touring party after coming in as injured Ravindra Jadeja’s replacement. Karim opined he can be a good fit into the Indian team with his all-round abilities.

“I look at him as a viable alternative as a batting all-rounder. On one hand, you have Hardik Pandya, who is a batting all-rounder and can bowl seam-up. I then look at Shahbaz Ahmed as a batting all-rounder who can bowl left-arm spin.”

“Depending on the combination, you can easily fit him in because the kind of performances he has put in for India A and Bengal for the past two, or three seasons have been massive. I am sure he will get more opportunities at the international level and will deliver some stellar performances.”

The Bangladesh vs India 1st ODI will be broadcast live on SONY SPORTS TEN 5 (English), SONY SPORTS TEN 3 (Hindi) & SONY SPORTS TEN 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels on December 4.

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