The Indian squad for the upcoming limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka was announced on Thursday, with veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan being named as the captain. Shikhar Dhawan and all-rounder Hardik Pandya were the two main contenders to lead the side, and the left-handed batsman got the nod.
Veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been appointed Shikhar Dhawan’s deputy for the tour. Devdutt Padikkal, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Nitish Rana and Chetan Sakariya are among the new faces in the Team India squad.
Among others, Prithvi Shaw, Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson are back in the team after missing out on the England series. Shreyas Iyer has not found a place as he is still recovering from a shoulder injury.
The three ODIs will be played on July 13, July 16 and July 18, and the three T20Is on July 21, 23 and 25.
Shikhar Dhawan as leader: The right choice?
With Shikhar Dhawan being appointed as captain for the Lanka series, we look at three reasons why the 35-year-old is the right choice to lead India.
#1 He likes challenges
Although a late bloomer in international cricket, Shikhar Dhawan is a highly experienced campaigner now. He has played over 140 ODIs and averages 45.28 with 17 hundreds. Dhawan has tasted success all over the globe in the limited-overs formats.
Significantly, he likes taking on big challenges and coming out on top. His amazing performances in ICC events - the World Cup and the Champions Trophy - are proof of the same. Shikhar Dhawan’s efforts in these major events have been on a totally elevated level.
Leading India is one of the greatest challenges for a cricketer. And Shikhar Dhawan will like to make the most of this opportunity, as it might not come his way again.
#2 He will be hungry to make a mark as leader
Despite being a permanent part of the limited-overs setup since 2013, Shikhar Dhawan has never been considered captaincy material. Virat Kohli has been the designated leader after MS Dhoni, while Rohit Sharma has been his deputy throughout in white-ball cricket.
Every cricketer who plays for the country harbors hopes of leading the nation one day. Yuvraj Singh recently revealed that he felt he would be named captain for the 2007 T20 World Cup, but it was MS Dhoni who got the nod.
To be fair, due to the available options, Shikhar Dhawan’s name never came in the fray for leadership. But life can provide you opportunities in unpredictable ways. And with both Kohli and Rohit in England for the grueling tour, Shikhar Dhawan was the best choice to lead India in Sri Lanka.
It is a great opportunity for the southpaw to prove his credentials as a captain at the fag end of his career. Undoubtedly, he will be keen to make a mark as a leader, even if the stint will be an extremely short one.
#3 Right man to guide the youngsters
As a person, Shikhar Dhawan is a cool and calm customer. He has no airs about himself and is extremely approachable. As expected, a lot of youngsters have been chosen in the team for the tour of Sri Lanka.
They could have been a bit overawed had Kohli been the captain of the team in their first international assignment. Such is the aura of India’s cricket captain. As such, it could be a blessing in disguise that the newcomers will be led by Shikhar Dhawan, who himself will be stepping into a new role.
In the absence of Kohli and Rohit, Shikhar Dhawan seems like the right choice to guide the youngsters. As mentioned earlier, he has the experience and has tasted amazing success in white-ball cricket. He knows what it takes to succeed in limited-overs contests.
There is quite a lot that youngsters can learn from Shikhar Dhawan, who will be keen to impart whatever knowledge he has gained while playing international cricket to the upcoming generation.
To sum it up, the short Sri Lanka tour will be a good learning curve for the youngsters and Shikhar Dhawan himself.