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Dhawan Rahul

Shikhar Dhawan unfazed by competition for India's opening slot

India news

Shikhar Dhawan, the India batsman, has said that he is not focused on the three-way competition for the opening slots in the T20I side and instead, is pleased with his individual returns in the Sri Lanka series.

Dhawan scored a brisk 52 in India's series-clinching win over Sri Lanka at the MCA Stadium in Pune on Friday, 10 January. He registered a 97-run opening stand with KL Rahul, who also notched up his ninth T20I fifty.

With Rohit Sharma having had an excellent 2019 – 2442 runs across formats at 53.08 – there is a three-way tussle for India's white-ball opening slots. It gets particularly stiffer in T20Is, with Rahul averaging 44.17 in the format, as opposed to Dhawan's 28.35.

Dhawan, however, is not fussed about the competition. The left-hander is instead focused on his personal returns, and is happy after scoring 32 and 52 in the two games against Sri Lanka.

"All three players are doing very well," he said after the third T20I. "Rohit, in particular, had an excellent 2019. Rahul has also done well in the last two months and he's a really good player. Even I am in the picture, now that I've done well (laughs). It's building up well.

"I don't think about the competition since it's not in my hands. I am happy with the fact that I could express myself in both opportunities I got."

On Friday, Sanju Samson became the sixth batsman India deployed at No.3 in their last six T20Is. The other five have been Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Dhawan revealed that the management's plan has been to give opportunities to all players in the build-up to the 2020 ICC Men's T20 World Cup, so as to "refine" them ahead of the marquee tournament.

"Today we wanted to give a fair chance to the players who hadn't batted in the series," he explained. "We're left with just 15-20 games [before the T20 World Cup]. They're rotating the players so that when the World Cup comes, everyone's refined and knows their job. This is the best time to experiment."

Dhawan scored 84 runs in the series at an average of 42
Dhawan scored 84 runs in the series at an average of 42

Dhawan's strike-rate in the final T20I was impressive, as he accumulated 52 runs in just 36 deliveries. The left-hander smacked seven fours and a six in his knock, batting at 144.44 to help India cross 90 within the first 10 overs. His partnership with Rahul looked seamless, as the duo exchanged strike expertly to ward off the Sri Lankan attack. 

"As an opener, taking risk is my job. We have to take advantage of the first six overs," he said. "Of course against Sri Lanka, there's Malinga, who's always consistent with his in-swinging yorkers. That's why I changed my strategy from ball one and kept rotating the strike."

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