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“Would Keep Him In The Mix”: Ex-India Cricketers Anshuman Gaekwad, Saba Karim Back Shikhar Dhawan For India’s South Africa Tour

Since his injury in the 2019 ODI World Cup, Shikhar Dhawan has found it hard to find a regular place in the Team India playing XI, with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma being the preferred openers. The swashbuckling batter was also excluded from this year’s T20 World Cup squad. Despite his erratic form lately, former India cricketers Anshuman Gaekwad and Saba Karim feel Dhawan deserves a chance to vie for a spot in the white-ball squad due to his experience and quality. With the next ODI World Cup slated for 2023, the 36-year-old will be hoping to get some opportunities and cement his place in the squad.

Speaking to Sportstar, Gaekwad said, “It all depends on how selectors look at it. I believe form can change but class remains, and batters like Shikhar need just one good inning to strike form. Sometimes, you have a bad patch and it has happened to the best of the players, including Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath. In that phase, no matter what you try, you just don’t get the result”.

“In such times, it is important to do some soul searching. You cannot exactly pinpoint what it is – whether it is mental, technical – and such things happen. You must hang in there and ensure that one innings comes soon. If need be, take a break and start afresh”.

India are scheduled to tour South Africa from December 26, where they will play three Test matches and three ODIs. Gaekwad feels that Dhawan deserves a chance for the fixtures against South Africa.

“He is not in best of forms, but then a big match player like him brings that experience in the batting department, which is very crucial in South African conditions. He could revolve the game around him and guide the youngster”, he stated.

“I believe in horses for courses, but at the same time, you have to give importance to experience…And a player like Shikhar has that quality”, he further added.

Meanwhile, former cricketer and ex-national selector Saba Karim believes that Dhawan has a lot of competition for a spot in India’s playing XI, especially from youngsters. But Karim also feels that Dhawan should feature in the upcoming tour and could improve his form.

“That’s what makes the draw more challenging and exciting. There have been phases in the past when Shikhar has been under pressure, but he has come out and has done quite well. Such healthy competitions should spur Shikhar to do well”, said Karim.

Like Gaekwad, Karim also went on to add that Dhawan’s experience could come in handy.

“At least for South Africa, I would keep him in the mix and see how it goes for the next couple of series”, he said.

Dhawan was also not selected for the recent home T20I series against New Zealand which India won under the leadership of new full-time white-ball captain Rohit Sharma. He is currently playing in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy with Delhi but has managed to register only 26 runs in three matches.

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