Why does Dhawan always pay the price for Rohit's poor form?

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 07, 2018 01:08 hrs
shikhar dhawan

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan’s contrasting forms continued from the tour of South Africa to the tri-series in Sri Lanka. While Rohit succumbed for a duck in the opening match in Colombo, Dhawan ended up topscoring with 90. It wasn’t enough to get India the win but Rohit’s poor run has raised serious question marks about his selection.

During the tour of South Africa, he was dropped for the third Test after scores of 11, 10, 10 and 47 in the first two.

Despite a century in the ODI series, his average was just 28.34 as he did not cross 20 in any of the other five innings. It was worse in the T20 series, where his average was 10.67 and his highest just 21.

Dhawan however had a fruitful tour of South Africa, registering 50-plus scores thrice and hitting one century in the ODI series at an average of 64.6. He fared well in the T20 series as well, averaging 47.67.

So why is that when the time comes to drop an opener and give a youngster a chance, it is always Dhawan who faces the axe?

Rohit’s value to the team is not lost on anyone. An unprecedented three double centuries in ODIs is not a joke and when he gets going, he can rip any opposition bowling to shreds. But the fact remains that his form is very patchy, particularly when playing overseas. Which is why Dhawan being dropped regularly is a serious concern for the team.

ODI stats (career) Innings Runs Average Centuries
Rohit 180 6594 44.55 17
Dhawan 102 4361 45.90 13

If you compare their ODI stats, it is more or less the same when it comes to the batting average, even though Rohit has played 78 matches more. But if you look at the stats away from home, the picture changes drastically.

ODI stats (Away from home) Innings Runs Average Centuries
Rohit 131 4086 38.54 10
Dhawan 73 3134 46.08 9

Not only does Dhawan’s average improve, his scoring rate is a lot better than Rohit’s outside of India.

Every decision made at the moment is done so with one eye on next year’s ODI World Cup in England. Which is why Dhawan’s omission raises serious question marks. The stats are even more glaring when you look at their performances in England.

ODI stats (in England) Innings Runs Average Centuries
Rohit 12 533 53.30 1
Dhawan 14 856 71.33 3

Dhawan’s average is a lot better than Rohit’s while playing in England and he averages a century every four games. Which is quite valuable at the top of an innings, especially in a World Cup. If the opener gets going, it only makes things easier for the middle order to notch up a big total.

And while these stats are very promising, this is only when he faced England in England. Dhawan is even more prolific when he takes on opponents in neutral venues.

ODI stats (neutral venues) Innings Runs Average Centuries
Rohit 42 1414 42.84 3
Dhawan 24 1295 56.30 5

Despite having played almost 20 matches less than Rohit, he is just 100 runs shy in aggregate ODI runs in neutral venues. He also has more centuries. All of these are enough proof that Dhawan is more consistent and valuable to Team India if the World Cup in England is the priority.

But this is not to say that Rohit should be dropped. As mentioned earlier, once he finds his groove, he can single-handedly win the match for India and together they have helped India set many big totals in the last few years.

The only concern is that if the selectors are opting to give the likes of Mayank Agarwal a chance in the team, it should be instead of Rohit and not Dhawan. But where Rohit pips Dhawan is when it comes to captaincy. When Virat Kohli was dropped from the final T20 against South Africa due to a stiff back, Rohit took over as captain. When Kohli was rested for the tri-series in Lanka, again Rohit was named captain. This is perhaps why he gets to keep his place while Dhawan is sacrificed.

But one needs to bear in mind that barring injury, Kohli will most definitely be captain when India go for the World Cup. Ideally, India should retain the opening partnership of Rohit and Dhawan provided both of them are in-form. But Dhawan should not be made a scapegoat, especially when he is the better performer within the duo.

Also by the author:

Why Raina could still be in for a starting spot in the 2019 World Cup team

What's so tricky about Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav