After India started their World Cup campaign on a high with wins over South Africa and defending World Champions Australia, they have now suffered a huge setback as their start opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out for three weeks due to a thumb injury. Dhawan sustained this injury during Sunday's clash against Australia when a rising delivery from Nathan-Coulter-Nile had struck him on his thumb and he had appeared to be in some pain. After applying healing spray, he continued his sublime batting and was involved in a couple of crucial partnerships with his opening partner Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli. In the process, Gabbar registered his 17th ODI ton. At the same time, this was also his third World Cup century and his sixth in ICC events. His 109-ball 117 not only bagged him the Man of the Match award but also helped India register a 36-run win.
While Dhawan has been sidelined and a replacement for the opening slot needs to be found, it is important to understand that the southpaw's presence contributes a lot to Team India's success. After all, he has stitched 16 opening wicket partnership stands with Rohit Sharma and he is the first Indian player with four centuries in England. At the same time, he is only the second visiting player with four tons in England. As of now, there is no scope for ifs and buts and there needs to be a replacement for the next three weeks as the Indian fans eagerly hope that the swashbuckling batsman recovers in time for the knockouts.
While KL Rahul had batted at the number four spot in India's first two games, skipper Virat Kohli will promote him up the order to open the innings along with the Hitman in Dhawan's absence. Rahul had impressed one and all with his blistering century against Bangladesh in India's second warm-up match at Cardiff. However, while opening the innings, Rahul will have to be watchful in the first spell and see off the new ball after which he can play some good strokes and build a good platform once he gets set.
With Rahul promoted up the order, the question is who will bat at number four. Here are the contenders for the all-important number four position.
1. Dinesh Karthik: Experience will be the right word to address Dinesh Karthik. Karthik who had made his international debut before MS Dhoni has been in and out of the Indian squad for the last 15 years. However, he has a vast experience of playing in England. In fact, he had made his debut in England back in 2004. He was the part of the Indian squad that had toured England in 2007/08 series. Karthik was also the part of the squad that lifted the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
2. Vijay Shankar: The Tamil Nadu all-rounder is inexperienced but might still get a go if all is well. In fact, Vijay had proven his potential once during India's tour to New Zealand where he had scored a vital 22-ball 45 and stitched in a 98-run fifth wicket stand with Ambati Rayudu after India were reduced to 18/4 at Wellington.
3. Ambati Rayudu: Rayudu had nearly consolidated the number four spot with some marvellous performances in 2018. After a not-so-impressive tour to Australia, it seemed that Rayudu rediscovered his rhythm when he scored a fighting 90 against New Zealand at Wellington. Nonetheless, some poor performances in the home series against Australia saw him miss out from the 15-member squad.
4. Rishabh Pant: Pant might also be in contention for the number four slot. However, as of now, the youngster has only featured in five ODI's and has amassed 93 runs with his highest individual score being 36.