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Dhawan sustains left thumb fracture

Southpaw’s World Cup participation in doubt as it may take a month for him to recover

Nottingham: In-form senior India opener Shikhar Dhawan was Tuesday ruled out of at least two World Cup matches after his left thumb was found to have a hairline fracture, dealing a major blow to one of the top title contenders at the showpiece.
The team management was tight-lipped on a possible replacement, which may not even be called if the injury heals within two weeks, a BCCI source told PTI. Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu are on BCCI’s official stand-by list in case the need for a replacement arises. But Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer’s name is also doing the rounds as he is a specialist No.4 batsman. It is learnt that Pant, whose omission from the original squad kicked up quite a storm given his brilliant form in the past one year, might be flown in as a cover, not replacement. Dhawan will miss the game against New Zealand on Thursday and the marquee clash against Pakistan on Sunday. It remains to be seen if he regains fitness for the match against Afghanistan of June 22. Dhawan was the hero of India’s win over Australia on Sunday with a knock of 117 off 109 balls. His injury-forced absence would be a massive blow for India given his stupendous record in ICC events. In the 10 World Cup matches he has played, Dhawan has amassed 537 runs at an average of 53.70 with a strike rate of 94.21. He batted through pain after being hit on his left thumb by a rising delivery from pacer Pat Cummins on Sunday but didn’t field during the clash. Ravindra Jadeja stood in his place for the entire 50 overs. Dhawan underwent scans here in which the fracture came to light. “Shikhar has shown that his threshold for pain is very high. If he says he can recover, I would wait for him,” said former India captain Sunil Gavaskar. The left-hander along with physio Patrick Farhart, went to Leeds for consultation with specialists earlier Tuesday. The team management and the selectors will decide if a replacement needs to be summoned as they are hoping for his complete recovery for the business end of the tournament. Since India play Afghanistan on June 22 in Southampton, which is six days after the Pakistan game in Manchester on June 16, Dhawan will get at least 11 days time to recover. Even if Dhawan misses the Afghanistan game, the next match against West Indies in Manchester is on June 27, which gives him another six days’ time to recover. The team management is thinking about taking a chance that will allow him to recover for the last two league games (against Bangladesh on July 2 and Sri Lanka on July 6) before gearing for a semi-final where India are certain to feature. It has been learnt that the tem management is not too keen on a replacement right now unless the doctors rule him out for more than a month. The Indian team has KL Rahul, a specialist opener who can join Rohit Sharma at the top of the order. In that case, one among Vijay Shankar or Dinesh Karthik will come in the middle-order for the next two games. The ICC doesn’t have any specific stand-by list as such and anyone could replace a current player based on approval from the event technical committee. (PTI)

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