Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan holds a soccer ball during a training session at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Southampton: Shikhar Dhawan’s dream of returning to action in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup has been shattered. Dhawan suffered a hairline fracture on his thumb after being hit by a delivery from Australian pacer Pat Cummins in their second match of the tournament on June 9. He is under observation, but he has failed to recover.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has written to the Technical Committee of the International Cricket Council (ICC) to seek permission to replace Dhawan in the squad. Rishabh Pant, who has already flown in from India on standby, is set to step into the India team in Dhawan’s absence.

India, who have assembled in Southampton for the clash against Afghanistan on Saturday after a short break following their triumph over Pakistan in Manchester, received the news just before their training session commenced. A rain-soaked ground welcomed them on the South Coast of England and hence their practice sessions took place in the indoor stadium after a brief warm up outside.

 India's Rishabh Pant
India's Rishabh Pant shares a light moment with a teammate during a training session at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton, on Wednesday, June 19, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Dhawan was present at the training session with his left hand wrapped in a bandage. Sunil Subramaniam, India’s team manager, said: “Dhawan will be in a cast until mid-July and is ruled out of the World Cup. Dhawan’s fracture is at the base of the first metacarpal on his left hand.”

Wicketkeeper-batsman Pant, 21, was seen training hard, although he may have to wait patiently for his chance to be included in the final XI. Since veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni is keeping wickets, and Lokesh Rahul hit a half-century against Pakistan after opening the innings in place of Dhawan. Vijay Shankar also performed brilliantly as an all-rounder against Pakistan, so there may be no place for Pant against Afghanistan.

Pant was earlier disappointed when he was not picked in the initial 15-member squad for the World Cup. The India selectors opted for Dinesh Karthik as backup wicketkeeper to Dhoni. Pant, who played for Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, had scored 488 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 162, with three half-centuries.

It is a disappointing end to the wait for Dhawan as he had batted on with the injury against Australia and scored a match-winning 117 runs.

India warmed up on Wednesday playing Sepak Takraw. This is a volleyball-like game that has its origins in South-East Asia. Players are not allowed to use their hands to play the ball and can only use their feet, head, knees and chest to touch the ball.