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India vs South Africa: Shikhar Dhawan’s last shot at staying ODI relevant | Cricket News – Times of India

Shikhar Dhawan has been an enigma. Over 6000 ODI runs with 17 centuries at an average of 45. 55 while striking at 93. 79 are enviable numbers. Yet, Dhawan has never had the ‘indispensable’ tag. Recurring freak injuries have played their part in hampering his career. He forever seems to find himself in a corner.
At 36, Dhawan has landed in South Africa to save his ODI career: the only format of the game the selectors could fit him in. He has not played in India colours since leading a second-string team on a white-ball tour of Sri Lanka in July last year. He has been chucked out of the T20I scheme of things at a time he was showing evidence that he had reinvented his T20 game while turning out for Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

It’s not the first time in his career that he seems to be on the verge of losing his place in the team. He has always found a way. Inevitably, he has played big knocks in games that could make or break his career. And now, India’s designated white-ball captain Rohit Sharma‘s injury has given him a kind of a free run on this tour.
Dhawan will be touching 38 by the time the ODI World Cup comes around in November 2023. Ruturaj Gaikwad‘s clean batting prowess hovers over his shoulder. His international career has never been so delicately poised. It’s about staying relevant. Sedate starts up the order is the biggest accusation he faces.

“Shikhar is a senior and experienced player and understands what is expected out of him. He is in a great space and has come out here and having fun, enjoying his cricket,” KL Rahul, India’s stand-in captain for the series, said on the eve of the first ODI.
Being in a good space and having fun are Dhawan’s strongest virtues. But Rahul would know it’s not all that simple while handling his situation. Rohit’s return is bound to create a flutter.
“As a captain, it will be about trying to keep him in that space and give him that confidence to go out there and do what he has been doing and just to enjoy his cricket and give Team India the starts that he has done,” Rahul claimed.
On song, there are few batters who can compete with Dhawan on building an ODI innings. Dhawan is used to grinding out to get his opportunities. But at a time when Indian cricket is talking transition and looking at the future, this series could be his last shot at ensuring he is not the fall guy.

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