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India vs South Africa: Is it time to look beyond Shikhar Dhawan as opener in T20Is?

It has been a story of so near yet so far for India in ICC WT20 over the past two editions. In the 2014 event India went down to Sri Lanka in the final, while the team was knocked out in the semi-finals in front of an expectant home crowd by eventual champions West Indies in 2016. As the team starts its preparations for the next edition in 2020, what will be is to find specialists for the format, something that India has always lacked.

The team has often depended on the brilliance of Virat Kohli and a few others to reach the business end of the tournament in the last two editions. But success in an ICC tournament is a result of a team performance, a bitter lesson that India were taught in the 50-over World Cup earlier this year.

To win in Australia next year, India needs firepower at the top of the order. In Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, India has two of the world’s best in their top 3. But as seen in England, these two can have a bad day and that can be the end of things in a knock-out match. Hence, the need for more support. While Shikhar Dhawan has provided good starts to India earlier, his performance in T20 internationals has been iffy to say the least for a while now. Add to that an ever-dropping strike-rate and Dhawan’s place could be under threat. While he does enjoy the team management’s support, Kohli and Ravi Shastri needs to look beyond the usual suspects now.

With the likes of Shubman Gill waiting in the wings and Rishabh Pant also capable of opening, Dhawan needs to do more than he has done. A look at his performance in the shortest format this year will throw more light on the problem at hand. While Dhawan did enjoy a good IPL season, his returns for India have been dismal.

Hindustantimes

In his last 10 T20I innings at home, Dhawan has breached the 40-run mark thrice with two half-centuries. In the rest of the seven innings he has not even crossed 20. Dhawan record at home is specially a concern as his strike-rate and average both drop drastically.

Hindustantimes

Dhawan has also failed to score a T20 century despite playing as many as 246 matches. He is currently tied with Gautam Gambhir at the top of the list of players with most fifties without a century in T20 cricket. The southpaw though has a good record against South Africa, against whom he enjoys his best strike-rate. He will thus look to make the most of this opportunity and start his preparations for the ICC World Cup in top gear.

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