ShikharDhawan vs KL Rahul: The race for India’s T20I opening slot

One of the big challenges in a cricketing country such as India, which has so many resources and players in the pool, is selection.

Team India is going through a similar dilemma at the moment. The IPL continues to throw up such talented individuals that in any other cricketing nation across the world, they would have cemented their place in the playing XI by now.

However such is the competition for spots in the Indian cricket team that even if you are a player of the calibre of ShikharDhawan or KL Rahul, your spot in the team is far from guaranteed.

ShikharDhawan has been partnering Rohit Sharma for the longest time in white ball cricket for India. The ride started from the 2013 Champions Trophy onwards and the duo has not looked back since.

Be it a World Cup in the 50-over format or the 20-over format, India has stuck to the opening combination and they have delivered more often than not.

However, with KL Rahul’s steep rise, the stylish batsman is now considered to be ahead of Dhawan in the pecking order for the Indian T20I side. This is the reason why Dhawan was dropped from the team after just one failure in the five match T20I series between India and England in 2021 in Ahmedabad.

Dhawan’s main criticism was that he took a lot of time to get going. There is acceptance of the fact that Dhawan is as destructive as anyone in world cricket once he takes off, but it was his strike rate to begin with where the problem lied.

Dhawan has an ordinary strike rate of 127.42 in T20 International cricket and an average of 27.8 which pale in comparison to KL Rahul’s average of 39.92 and strike rate of 142.19 in T20 International cricket.

However, in the last couple of seasons of the IPL, Dhawan has made it a point that he does not eat up a lot of deliveries and has been firing from the outset. The way Dhawan has been striking in IPL 2021, he has made a case to be picked ahead of KL Rahul as Rohit Sharma’s opening partner in India’s playing XI at the 2021 T20 World Cup.

That said, a few months can be a long time in international cricket. The way the two shape up in the lead-up to the showpiece event will decide their fate.

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