India must look beyond Shikhar Dhawan: Srikkanth

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NEW DELHI: Shikhar Dhawan hasn’t hit the kind of consistency he would have liked to achieve after returning from the thumb injury that cut short his stay at the ODI World Cup earlier this year. With the T20 World Cup 10 months away, former India captain Kris Srikkanth believes it’s time to look beyond the left-handed opener.

“The need of the hour is instant firepower and that’s one area where India are lacking,” Srikkanth mentioned in his column for The Times of India on Friday. “The hosts need to slot KL Rahul firmly as an opener and look beyond Dhawan.”

“Of course, there is Kohli and other talents to make up (for firepower) but that might not be enough on the big day, as the team has found out in many ICC tournaments over the last few years,” the former opener said.

India will host West Indies for a series of T20Is and ODIs, beginning with the first T20I in Hyderabad on Friday. Srikkanth called it a “good test” in preparation for the T20 World Cup next year in Australia.

“The T20 World Cup is good 10 months away and a series against West Indies should be a good test for this strong Indian team. Hopefully, it will show areas that require improvement. The recent (T20I) loss to Bangladesh was an eye opener. No team can be taken lightly in this format. All it requires is one massive individual effort to win the day,” Srikkanth wrote.

Virat Kohli will be back to lead the Men in Blue, having returned during the Test series against Bangladesh after a break. The West Indies, however, will miss some of their famous white-ball cricketers, chiefly Andre Russell.

“It goes without saying that West Indies have excelled in this format. In short bursts, they can be a challenging proposition. They are coming into this series with a couple of exciting names. As usual, a few big names are missing,” Srikkanth added.
Hyderabad will host the first T20I at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, which has traditionally rolled out batsmen-friendly tracks. But India’s bowling unit is in the best possible shape Kohli could have asked for.
“The bowling unit is almost at full tilt and with (Ravindra) Jadeja coming back, I see good competition among spinners. Fielding is another area that this unit has improved massively.
“Hyderabad as a venue has always been a paradise for the batsmen. The outfield also provides excellent value for shots. It might be tough on the bowlers,” Srikkanth signed off.

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