‘Anything for my country,’ Shikhar Dhawan ready to vacate opener’s slot

India opener Shikhar Dhawan on Tuesday said he is ready to bat anywhere for the country in the remaining two ODIs against Australia. Dhawan, who returned to India’s ODI side after an injury lay-off, was India’s top-scorer in the 1st ODI against Australia in which India suffered a 10-wicket drubbing after a gap of 15 years. India’s decision to play both Dhawan and Rahul in the XI and demote Kohli to No.4 met with a lot of criticism from former cricketers from both India and Australia. The likes of VVS Laxman, Matthew Hayden, Murali Kartik believed that Kohli batting at No.4 instead of his preferred No.3 slot was one of the main reasons behind the Indian innings not getting the required momentum in the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.

India managed to put on a below-par 255 all out despite their being a 121-run partnership for the second wicket between Dhawan and Rahul.Australia chased down the target in the 38th over with both Aaron Finch and David Warner smashing unbeaten centuries.

“If they ask me to bat at No.3, of course I’ll do it. Anything for my country, for sure,” Dhawan, who opened the batting with Rohit Sharma, said at the post-match press conference.

“You have to be mentally strong, all the boys are mentally strong, that’s why they’ve been playing international cricket and its part of the journey, sometimes you’ve to switch numbers as well,” he added.

Dhawan scored 74 off 91 and KL Rahul 47 off 61 but both got out at crucial stages of the match.

“See that is a captain’s choice, KL is batting well, he did well in the last series and he played really well and he played well today,” said Dhawan.

“I feel it is the captain’s choice where he wants to play and he has done amazing at No. 3, maybe I feel, he will think about it to go at number three again,” he added.

Skipper Kohli has also insisted that he might have to “rethink” his plans going into the remaining matches of the series.

“(On batting at 4) We’ve had this discussion many times in the past as well. Because of the way KL (Rahul) has been batting, we have tried to fit him in the batting line-up. But I don’t think it’s gone quite our way whenever I batted at four so probably will have to rethink about that one,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

“It’s about giving some guys opportunities. Every now and then, it’s about putting people up there and testing them. People need to relax and not panic with one game. I am allowed to experiment a little bit and fail at times. Today was one of the days it didn’t come off,” he added.

Dhawan also echoed his captain’s sentiments about Tuesday’s defeat being a one-off performance. “See it is just one bad day in office. We played really well against West Indies, there all the batsmen did well.”

The next match is in Rajkot on Friday, which if levelled, the series will then be decided in Bengaluru on Sunday.

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