With Shikhar Dhawan out of the Indian World Cup team at least for the next three weeks, there is great speculation as to who would replace him. The most prominent name doing the rounds is of Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant. His exclusion from the World Cup squad had led to a great deal of commentary with everyone, from lay fans to cricket experts, describing the decision as wrong.
The left-hander had himself expressed disappointment at not getting selected. However, it seems like another door of opportunity has opened up for the man with two Test centuries. The idea of replacing Dhawan with another Delhi left-hander seems rather apt. But it's not just the regional affinity that suggests Pant as the likely replacement.
The fact that Dhawan has a very aggressive batting style means that his replacement should also be someone who can bat in a similar fashion. Nobody currently embodies that spirit of positivity more than the young wicketkeeper of Delhi Capitals. Though, he may not open the innings even if he gets into the playing XI, Pant can easily slot in at any position from the middle order to the lower order. He has also received the backing of greats of the game like Sourav Ganguly and Michael Vaughan.
However, Pant's inclusion into the side is far from certain. Pant failed to make a mark in the ODI series against Australia where he was given a chance. Since Rahul has also been an inconsistent performer, Indian selectors and team management may feel a need to bring in a reserve opener. This opens the gate for other batsmen, especially Ajinkya Rahane, who has batted as an opener and even achieved some success there. His experience and solid technique is also going to further his cause. Besides, the Mumbai opener is currently in England playing county cricket.
Then there is Ambati Rayudu. He criticised the selectors for leaving him out in a cryptic tweet but may be given an opportunity considering his past performances. There are other talented players in the domestic circuit who may be considered. Ruturaj Gaikwad of Maharashtra recently scored big back-to-back hundreds against Sri Lanka A. But he is as yet completely untested against strong opposition. Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill are two young guns who will be on selectors' radar. The latter also scored a hundred against Sri Lanka A. So, it is hard to know whom will the selectors trust. But it's going to be a mighty tough choice.