Shikhar Dhawan is an extremely curious case in Indian cricket. He is prolific in ODI cricket, has not nailed his spot in Test cricket and his position is under the scanner in T20. However, veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels Dhawan is very important to the Indian team - as important as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
"Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma are some of the finest batsmen that India has seen, and have proven to be one of India's best opening pairs. Shikhar Dhawan's contribution to the game is as important as that of Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli," Harbhajan told Star Sports.
'He will be unstoppable'
Harbhajan also said that Dhawan is an extremely good player across all the formats and that in the current context, he will be unstoppable if he continues to work on his fitness.
"Be it T20 or 50 overs, irrespective of the format, Shikhar is really good. According to me, there is no better opener than Shikhar Dhawan, along with Rohit Sharma, in any format - T20 and 50 overs. If he continues working on his fitness in the coming 2-3 years, I think he will be unstoppable," Harbhajan said.
Dhawan was ruled out of the World Cup after a finger injury and ever since his comeback, he has not been able to hit his stride. He struggled in the West Indies tour but the selectors have reposed their faith on the left-hander for the upcoming series against South Africa.
India has other areas to look forward to in the T20I against South Africa, the primary one being identifying young players to take up the role of specialist openers as well as batsmen for the middle order. As per batting coach Vikram Rathour, they are looking at both Manish Pandey and Shreyas Iyer as the batsmen who can solve the middle order muddle.
Young Rishabh Pant has to be more vigilant and careful about the way he plans his innings, according to Rathour.
"Rishabh is phenomenal but needs to sort out his game plan and be more disciplined," Rathour said ahead of the second T20I.
"His hits make him special and an impact player. But the young cricketers need to understand that there is a thin line between playing fearless and careless cricket. The team management is asking the players to be fearless, to have intent and back their strength," he further added.