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Hairline fracture puts cloud over Shikhar Dhawan's World Cup

ESPNcricinfo logo ESPNcricinfo 4 days ago Nagraj Gollapudi

Shikhar Dhawan is likely to miss India's next two matches, against New Zealand and Pakistan, after picking up a suspected hairline fracture on his left thumb. ESPNcricinfo understands that Dhawan - who scored a century in the last match, against Australia - has gone to Leeds to undergo scans, and a final word on the status of the injury is likely to emerge later today.

According to a BCCI official, the Indian selectors have not yet named any replacement; it is understood they want to wait for the full diagnosis and results of Dhawan's medical tests, including the likely recovery time, before they take a decision on whether to retain him or ask for a replacement. At least three Indian selectors - MSK Prasad (chairman) along with Sarandeep Singh and Devang Gandhi - are travelling with the Indian squad.

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If a replacement is named, Dhawan can only come back to the squad if another player is injured and the tournament technical committee is satisfied with that replacement. The Indian management now faces a dilemma: if they think Dhawan can recover in time for the knockouts, they can't name a replacement for him in the squad of 15.

Dhawan was hit on the left thumb by a Pat Cummins delivery early in his innings of 117 on Sunday. For a while after being hit, he kept taking his bottom hand off the bat when striking the ball, indicating that he was in pain. As the innings progressed, he seemed to have settled down, and played his shots without apparent discomfort. However, he didn't come out to field during Australia's innings and was seen with an ice pack on his left hand in the dressing room.

The Indian selectors had named a list of stand-by players before the World Cup, comprising Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant, Axar Patel, Ishant Sharma and Navdeep Saini. It is not clear if the selectors will pick a replacement (if needed) from among these players, or will look at other options, given none of batsmen on this list is an opener. One option is for KL Rahul to be pushed up the order to partner Rohit Sharma, and a middle-order batsman to slot into the XI. In the squad, Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar are the likely options who can fill up a middle-order spot.

Dhawan's loss is a significant blow to India, given his prolific form, particularly in ICC tournaments. In 20 matches across the World Cup and the Champions Trophy, he has 1238 runs with six hundreds and four fifties, averaging 65.15 with a strike rate of 98.25.

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In ten World Cup matches, he has scored 537 runs at an average of 53.70 and a strike rate of 94.21. In India's two matches so far in this World Cup, he has made 8 and 117.

Dhawan's absence will also mean India have to go without his very successful partnership with Rohit at the top. The two have put on 4681 runs together in 103 innings, averaging 45.89, the fourth highest by an opening pair in ODI history.

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