Cricketer-turned-commentator Aakash Chopra is delighted with the return of opening batter Shikhar Dhawan to India’s ODI squad for the three-match ODI series against South Africa.
On Friday, India’s ODI squad for the three-match ODI series against South Africa was announced. KL Rahul was named the captain of the 18-member squad.
Rohit Sharma, who was named India’s new white-ball captain, wasn’t included in the ODI series as he hasn’t regained complete fitness from the hamstring injury he suffered during a training session in Mumbai.
Dhawan, who led India against Sri Lanka in their limited-overs tour last year in July, was snubbed from India’s T20 World Cup squad.
You will see Shikhar Dhawan opening alongside KL Rahul: Aakash Chopra
Dhawan isn’t either part of India’s Test set-up anymore as he hasn’t played a red-ball game since 2018, which means the One Day International format is his only hope to continue playing in the Indian colours.
In Rohit’s absence, Dhawan could pair with KL Rahul in the opening slot against the Proteas.
“I was repeatedly saying that Shikhar Dhawan should be there. I am so glad that he is there. If Rohit Sharma, Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan were there, then there would surely have been a fight on who would play where,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
“Now that he is in the team, in my opinion, he should be the starter. You will see Shikhar Dhawan opening alongside Rahul, that’s what I feel. Kohli plays at three, this is ODI cricket and not Tests, let’s remind ourselves,” he added.
Have no clue whether Ruturaj Gaikwad will get a chance to play: Aakash Chopra
Maharashtra skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad was also named in the 18-member squad after his astounding campaign in the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021-22.
Ruturaj slammed four centuries from five innings to accumulate 603 runs at a staggering average of 150.75. His highest score of 168 came against Chandigarh at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium C in Rajkot.
Chopra said Ruturaj selection was expected but the Maharashtra player might not get an opportunity to play because India already has a fix batting order.
“Ruturaj Gaikwad – that’s another big story, the sort of performances he has dished out in the IPL and then in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, he is not taking the name of stopping. He has been absolutely sensational,” Chopra mentioned.
“His name being there is a thumbs up. It was expected that his name will come but whether he will get a chance to play or not, I have no clue. It is slightly difficult, let’s be honest because KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Iyer, SKY, Pant – there is no place for Ishan Kishan as well. Venkatesh Iyer is also already there down the order,” he added.
The ODI series between South Africa and India will commence on January 19 at the Boland Park in Paarl followed by the second match on January 21 in the same venue. The final ODI will be played in Cape Town on January 23.