New Delhi | Jagran Sports Desk: Back in July last year, Shikhar Dhawan was made India's captain for the limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka after most of the regular players of the team, including Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, were sent to England for the five-match Test series against the Three Lions. Back then, Dhawan, who was on constant firing lines of the critics, might have thought that he has a chance to revive his white-ball career.

However, six months down the line, Dhawan has found himself on the firing lines once again. Recently, India's one-day international (ODI) squad for the South Africa tour was named with KL Rahul getting the chance to lead the side in the absence of Rohit Sharma. It was expected that Dhawan, following the Sri Lanka tour, might become Rahul's deputy but the selectors named pacer Jasprit Bumrah as the team's vice-captain.

Analysts and cricket pundits believe that by doing so, the selectors have hinted that Dhawan, who is 36-year-old, is approaching the end of the road of his international career. Notably, Dhawan was also dropped from India's T20I World Cup squad last year despite two back-to-back successful Indian Premier League (IPL) seasons.

The rise of Rahul is one of the big reasons why Dhawan might soon find himself on the firing lines again. Besides, Dhawan is also facing stiff competition from 24-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad, who was in dazzling form in the Vijay Hazare Trophy where he aggregated over 600 runs in five games with 168 as his highest score.

Gaikwad, who hails from Pune, had also impressed everyone in the 2021 IPL season where he was the leading scorer of the tournament after he amassed a staggering 635 runs and played a key role in Chennai Super Kings (CSK) winning the title. This also helped Gaikwad to earn praise from chief selector Chetan Sharma who said that the Maharashtra batter would "do wonders" for the national team.

"Look, absolutely (he has) got the opportunity at the right time. He was in the T20 team and also now he is in the ODI team, wherever his place can be made, selectors are thinking he will go and do wonders for the country," Sharma was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

"We have selected him (Ruturaj). Now it is up to the (team) management to see when he can play in the XI, when he is required and how to go about the combination, these things we will coordinate... But, at present, he (Ruturaj) was in the T20 side also against New Zealand and he is in ODI now. He is doing well and he is rewarded for that."

Famously known as 'Gabbar', Dhawan has been a mainstay in the Indian team, especially in the white-ball format where he has formed several formidable opening partnerships with Rohit. However, in recent years, the 36-year-old has found himself on the firing lines of the critics due to his inconsistency.

If Dhawan manages to find his mojo back in South Africa where the Indian team is scheduled to play three ODIs on January 19, 21 and 23 at Paarl and Cape Town respectively, then he might just revive his career which is at the fag-end. However, if not, then Dhawan's international career might soon come to an end.

Dhawan has 6,105 runs to his name in 145 ODIs at an average of 45.55. He also has scored 17 centuries and 33 half-centuries with 143 being his best. In 66 T20Is, Dhawan has scored 1,719 runs at an average of 28.18. He has 11 half-centuries to his name in the shortest format of the game with 92 being his best.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma