Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan might be an inseparable pair when it comes to the 50-over format but the case is not the same when it comes to T20Is. While Rohit continues to be the same beastly figure in this format as he is in the ODIs, Dhawan doesn’t seem like the same force.
That’s why his place in the T20I side has always been under scrutiny. Yes, he did play an important role with his innings of 40 in India’s victory over South Africa in the second T20I of the ongoing series at Mohali, but he has been averaging only 18.12 in T20Is this year and, that too, at a strike-rate of only 106.61. These numbers are nowhere near to an acceptable range for an opener.
In fact, KL Rahul should be opening in every T20I ahead of Dhawan considering the kind of consistency he has shown ever since his debut in the format back in 2016. Rahul’s averages in the respective years since 2016 read 89.50, 39.85, 36.00 and 39 respectively. In fact, his overall T20I record of 899 runs at an average of 42.80 reads much better than that of Dhawan’s 1377 runs at an average of 27.54. Their overall strike-rates of 148.10 and 129.53 are highly contrasting as well. Moreover, Rahul has two centuries in a short span of 28 T20Is for India whereas Dhawan has none in 54. So, it sums up who the better player is in this format.
In fact, Rahul has the second best average among openers with 500 or more runs in T20I history. His strike-rate is also one of the best in the format and to have it with a 40-plus average sums up his quality as a T20 opener.
He might have had his share of struggles in the longer formats of the games but when it comes to T20s, he is second to none. Dhawan, on the other hand, has largely underperformed in T20Is ever since 2011. Yes, he might have had a stellar run in 2018 with 689 runs at an average of 40.52 and a strike-rate of 147.22 but his form has faded away this year once again. Apart from 2018, he didn’t even average over 30 in any of the years during which he had played two or more T20I innings. The highest average he recorded was 25.40 in 2017 followed by 25.08 in 2016. His averages in 2014 and 2015 read only 16 and 7 and, that too, at dismal strike-rates of 98.56 and 87.50 respectively.
So, all these facts and figures sum up who the more deserving batsman is to partner Rohit at the top. Dhawan might have picked up his T20I game since last year but Rahul’s consistency and explosiveness should see him starting ahead of the southpaw. (more on KL Rahul news updates)
Written by: Prasenjit Dey