Former India captain and opener Sunil Gavaskar has questioned Indian team management’s call to drop Shikhar Dhawan after just one Test of the five-match series against England.
“My point about Dhawan is that he is always dropped after one Test,” Gavaskar said an interview with Mumbai Mirror. “Others get another opportunity. He should have also got a second chance.”
The southpaw only managed scores of 26 and 13 in the first Test at Edgbaston and was replaced by Cheteshwar Pujara at Lord’s, with KL Rahul moving up the batting order.
Gavaskar argued that the decision is even more surprising considering that Dhawan provides a variation in the batting order being a left-hander.
“If you look at the scores, in the first Test, he scored more runs than Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. So, what is the criteria? In addition to that, he is a left-hander. If he was a right-hander, I can understand that you want to go with the younger option of Rahul. “
“He should have been retained and the team should have strengthened the batting. In Australia, South Africa and England, you need to go with six batsmen in the first Test.”
This is not the first instance that Dhawan has been dropped on overseas tours after the initial games. During the 2014 tour of England, the opener was dropped for the final two Tests. He then missed the final Test of the four-match series on the 2014-15 Australia tour, and was recently dropped for the final two Tests against South Africa earlier this year.
Speaking about India’s poor performance in the first innings on Friday, Gavaskar said that it is not an easy prospect to score in England.
“It’s never easy to bat in England, particularly in conditions where there is swing in the air and off the surface,” he said. “The team is playing against a top-class bowling attack. James Anderson has almost 550 wickets with his difficult action, where it looks as if it comes in, but actually moves out. They are up against a top-class attack.”
Gavaskar was also critical of India’s preparation heading into the series. Virat Kohli’s men played just one practice match heading into the Test series, which was reduced to a three-day unofficial game from a four-day first class game, against Essex.
“In a 14-day gap, playing only one three-day game did not make cricketing sense. After the ODI series got over, you can sure take a three-day break.”
“Again, three days before the first Test, you take a break. But in the remaining eight days, you play two three-day matches. It gives the players a little more chance to get used to the red ball. One game was not a help. We’ve not learnt anything from South Africa where we cancelled a practice game. The more you play, the more you get into the groove. They wasted the opportunity.”
Gavaskar was however was all praise for the current skipper Virat Kohli, who in a single Test, bettered his aggregate from his previous tour with 149 and 51 at Edgbaston, nearly pulling off a famous win for India.
“First and foremost, he is one of the greats. He can always make the adjustment fast. He started doing the mistakes that he did in 2014, going at the ball hard, in the first Test too. He quickly changed that and started playing close to the body. Instead of going for the ball, he is waiting for it to come on to his pads. He is able to work it on the on-side.”