Shikhar Dhawan has been the most prolific scorer for India in the last two ICC events here in England – in the 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophy editions. Being a left-handed batsman, Dhawan (right) was providing added dynamism to the composition of the side. So how could his injury affect this Indian side and their campaign in this World Cup? A left-handed opener, who played most of his cricket in England, provides a perspective to Mirror. Over to former England opener Nick Knight (inset)… How big could be the impact of not having a left-handed batsman at the top of the order? The absence cuts more so with the quality of the player rather than with the fact that the missing player is a left-handed batsman. In the grand scheme of things, there is a slight advantage of having a left-handed and right-handed opening combination. But only that much…. It is a bonus, but only a bonus. My point is that when you lose a player of the quality and consistency of Shikhar Dhawan, it is a huge loss. As much as his left-handedness, it is the relationship and understanding with Rohit Sharma that will be missed most by the Indian side. So in my opinion that is more important than just the left-right scenario. So you say this loss will affect India… It’s a loss but KL Rahul has come in and done well at the top. In Shikhar’s absence, they (India) have quality which is why they are one of the best sides in ODI cricket. They have got quality players and quality options within the batting order to restructure the side. It’s a loss obviously but it does not discount them from winning the competition. You seem to discount the impact of the left-right combination… The obvious reality is that bowlers have to rejig their line and length; constant field-changing is the other point. I can say that most bowlers would like to bowl either to a lefthander or a right-hander consistently. It’s because they can settle into a line and keep a field set for a long time and put pressure. The left-right combination upsets the bowlers and captains. In that sense it’s a handy tool to have. But I am not someone who thinks you should pick a left-right combination for the sake of it. It is added bonus. Yes, the understanding between Rohit and Shikhar, who can rotate the strike regularly, will be affected a bit. Is a left-right duo more important in English conditions? No, I don’t think so. There is a slight advantage if your best combination is left-right. But I won’t pick a team considering that. How do you see Shikhar as an opener and a batsman? He is a wonderful player. He is a player I love watching. As a fellowleft hander, I would switch on my telly to watch him. The fact that he is around for some time now… I have seen how smart he has been in developing his innings and partnerships alongside Rohit. He was clever in dominating and was clever in handing over the dominance to Rohit. He has perfectly balanced that. I see a top-class player in him. I don’t see any obvious weaknesses. He has got a very good all-round game. The most important for me is that I want to watch him play. India will miss the combined experience of Shikhar and Rohit. That could be a setback too… I think it is a setback because he is one of the finest opening batsmen in the game. You can’t ignore that and say it does not matter. Of course, it does. But what you have to do as a team is move on with the available quality players. There are plenty of them. That’s what makes it (India) a special team. They have got genuinely quality options. But inevitably, the Indian fans would think it’s a loss. Yes, it’s a loss. Do you think the loss could affect India’s World Cup campaign? (It’s a) loss for sure but can India win the World Cup? Yes, India can win the World Cup even with this loss. They have got the strength and depth in the squad. The numbers show that he clearly enjoys playing in England. But India can still win the World Cup.
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