Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan was Wednesday ruled out of the ongoing World Cup and replaced by young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant after failing to make enough recovery in a fresh assessment of his thumb fracture.
Dhawan, 33, picked up the injury on his left thumb during the June 9 clash against Australia in London and was initially ruled out of three games -- against Pakistan (June 16), Afghanistan (June 22) and the West Indies (June 27). "Shikhar Dhawan has fractured the base of the metacarpal (bone) of his left hand. His hand will remain in cast till mid July which rules him out of the ICC 2019 World Cup," team's administrative manager Sunil Subramanium told mediapersons. "We have written to the ICC requesting Rishabh Pant as replacement," he added.
Pant comes in with an accumulated ODI experience of five matches but is considered a trump card owing to his fearless approach. He was part of the official standbys list along with Ambati Rayudu. Dhawan was always running against time to be fit for the match against England, scheduled for June 30 in Birmingham. It is learnt that the swashbuckling opener, who played through pain to score a hundred against Australia, "had no chance" of recovering in time. "Dhawan was never going to be fit in time.
However, the team management was reluctant to name a replacement. It was never on same page with selectors who wanted to announce an official replacement right after his (Dhawan's) diagnosis," said a source privy to the developments. The left hander tweeted his disappointment at missing out on competing further in the tournament but said "the show must go on". "I feel emotional to announce that I will no longer be a part of #CWC19. Unfortunately, the thumb won't recover on (sic) time. But the show must go on.. I'm grateful for all the love & support from my team mates, cricket lovers & our entire nation. Jai Hind!," Dhawan wrote on his twitter page. Pant was brought in as cover for Dhawan after the team management decided to wait on the senior opener's recovery but assessment of the injury this week did not throw up encouraging results.
As a consequence, the 21-year-old Pant, whose omission from the original squad had kicked up a storm given his exceptional form in the past one year, has got the big break. Pant's addition to the side was backed by the likes of the legendary Sunil Gavaskar. The former captain felt that the Delhi-lad deserved to be in if Dhawan was to be forced out given the youngster's "cracking hot form". Pant had scored impressive hundreds during the Test tours of England and Australia. He also enjoyed a good run in the IPL last month, scoring 488 runs with a strike rate of over 160.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed that the Event Technical Committee of the Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 has approved Rishabh Pant as a replacement player for Shikhar Dhawan in India's squad for the remainder of the tournament, a statement from the global body said. What perhaps prompted the team management to finally make an annoucement on Dhawan's injury was the fact that even Bhuvneshwar Kumar is injured. India would have had only 13 players to select from in the Afghanistan game on June 22 if Pant was not brought in as a replacement. Bhuvneshwar is out of three matches with a hamstring niggle. "Bhuvneshwar is being assessed by team physio Patrick Farhart," team's trainer Shankar Basu said.