NZ Vs Ind: End Of The Road For Dhawan-Sharma Partnership?

These days, the skipper has more words in the press room than his batsmen’s runs on the cricketing fields.

These days, Indian skipper has more words to throw in the press room than what his team is throwing on the cricketing field. Just like another press conference, Dhoni was letting it know to the Indian openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma that ‘they’ are watching you! After the 2nd ODI, Dhoni said, “When it comes to our openers, they fought out the first 10 overs but I felt that it was very important they could have carried on for another 10-15 overs so that from the 22nd or 25th over onwards, we should have started to hit out, but it does not always go according to plan.” 

Dhoni’s ODI opening pair has pressed the collapse button, more simply putting it, out of form. The duo are out of touch and lack that punch which garnered them praises and applauds during the 2013 Champions Trophy and home series to Australia. Shikhar Dhawan had a catastrophic South African safari and so did his ODI partner, Rohit Sharma. In their last 10 overseas one-day games, Sharma has accounted only 2 half-centuries while Dhawan has a ton to his name (err…against Zimbabwe).

Even though Dhoni did flay his openers after the spanking in Hamilton, he did have a piece of mind for the duo. He said, “With more and more games, they (Sharma and Dhawan) will realise what their real game is. They will back themselves to play it, they will change and improve for better performance. We play free-flowing cricket and that’s what they should, play their shots. It does not matter if it is the first ball or the last.”

So for how long do Mr. Dhoni and Mr. Fletcher plan to continue keeping their calm over Dhawan and Sharma? Even as a regular opener like Ajinkya Rahane gets his talent wasted at number 4 slot, or a benched Ambati Rayudu is yet to play under MS Dhoni’s captaincy. In the 2nd ODI where India were chasing a revised target of 293 under 42 overs, Indian openers who were fearless in India, turned out be cowards back in New Zealand. Dhawan played 22 balls for his 12 runs where as Sharma scored a paltry 20 in mere 34 deliveries. Even in the 1st ODI, Rohit Sharma reminded us of that ‘old Rahul Dravid scourge’ where he scored 3 runs playing out 23 balls.

With such jinx hovering over the team; India recently lost the number one ranking. The captain said, “As far as the morale is concerned, it´s a fantastic, lively dressing room. And what we always emphasise is that cricket is not something that should have a lot of effect on the dressing room. Yes, they are linked, but at the same time it should not be like when you’re performing well you have a different dressing room and when you´re not the entire scenario changes.”

Team India faces a probable challenge of losing this series 3-0 against a New Zealand side that is upbeat and doing all their ‘homework’ upto date. Should India are to avert a loss in the 3rd ODI, what chances are of Dhoni retaining his faith in the openers who have failed on numerous occasions overseas. With the 2015 World Cup in mind, isn’t it the right time to check other options too!

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