Rishabh Pant to join Team India as cover for injured Shikhar Dhawan

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Rishabh Pant

Rishabh Pant will be joining the Indian team as cover for the injured Shikhar Dhawan in England as they prepare for their next match against New Zealand on Thursday.

Rishabh Pant will be reaching England on Wednesday after getting clearance from the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday night.

The Indian team management for now, will be monitoring Dhawan’s recovery and if they feel it is not going according to plan, then the BCCI will officially request the International Cricket Council (ICC) for a replacement.

Pant meanwhile, will join the team and start training straightaway. He should be ready in time to come into the Indian playing XI if needed for the game against New Zealand.

The BCCI in a statement said: “Team India opening batsman Dhawan is presently under the observation of the BCCI medical team. The team management has decided that Dhawan will continue to be in England and his progress will be monitored.

“Dhawan sustained an injury on the back of his left hand in the region between the index finger and thumb during the league match against Australia on Sunday.”

Latest reports suggest Dhawan could be out for only 2 weeks as he only has a minor fracture. In his absence, the Indian team in all likelihood open with KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma against New Zealand on June 13.

Dhawan suffered his injury after being hit by a Pat Cummins delivery during his 109-ball 117 knock against Australia.

The real question now is who will bat in the middle-order? Will it be Dinesh Karthik or will India bring in Vijay Shankar who can also bowl decent medium-pace?

India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh backed the idea of Pant being first-choice replacement and also threw Ajinkya Rahane’s name into the mix, citing his experience of having played in the United Kingdom.

“He [Rahane] is a very good option to be considered. He has been playing cricket here. He is one of the middle order batsmen to rely on. He has got the technique to bat at No.3, No.4. He was one of India’s best batsmen at the 2015 World Cup. It would be a bad call to ask him to join the team from here itself.

“I would still like to see the injury as to how long Shikhar Dhawan is gone. You can straightaway have him in the squad after it heals. You want to be fully fit. Shikhar Dhawan himself won’t take a chance. A fracture ideally takes more than 3 weeks,” Harbhajan told media.

“At the moment, if I have to pick one replacement player, it would be Rishabh Pant or if you want to go for experience, then it would be Ajinkya Rahane.”

Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen also suggested that Pant should be flown to England as soon as possible.