India, who are the only side yet to announce their squad for the Champions Trophy, have a pressing issue to address and that comes at the top of the order, after news that KL Rahul will miss the tournament with injury. With the defence of the Champions Trophy to begin from June 1, we look at the potential replacements and their present IPL seasons.
Dhawan had been India’s regular limited overs opener before bad form led to Rahul replacing him in the limited overs setup. The Delhi opener made himself known to the world in the previous Champions Trophy when he mustered 363 runs in five innings with two hundreds and a fifty.
Generally the third opener after Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, the Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman has been in good form in the IPL this year. In 10 innings this season, Dhawan has 369 runs at 36.90 at a strike rate of 125.51 with two fifties. He is third on the Orange Cap list.
Gautam Gambhir for so long had been considered as India’s man for the big tournaments, as his top scores in the 2007 World T20 Final and the 2011 World Cup final both show. Yet the 35-year-old has not played One Day International cricket for India for over four years now, as a result of poor form and better replacements.
Gambhir did make a comeback to the Indian Test squad in the recently concluded Test season and played a couple of games. His IPL form makes for brilliant reading. The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper has 387 runs in 10 innings so far this season, boasting an average of 55.29, a strike rate of 135.31 and four fifties. He is second on the Orange Cap list this season. With India needing an opener to tackle the English conditions, the old workhorse would certainly be ready for duty.
Robin Uthappa has been around for a long time since he made his ODI debut back in 2006 and was a part of the 2007 World T20 triumph. Yet that fact that Uthappa has only 42 innings for India in over a decade is underwhelming – his last ODI coming for over two years ago.
Nevertheless, the Kolkata Knight Riders wicketkeeper has been in terrific form this season and has continued his strong performances in this tournament ever since his move to the Knight Riders. In nine innings so far, Uthappa has 384 runs at 42.67 with a strike rate of 170.67 and five half-centuries. He is fourth on the Orange Cap list this season. Although he has frequently batted at three this season, the Karnataka right-hander is predominantly an opener and such numbers are very impressive.
There are no better three options for the vacant spot for the Champions Trophy. All three are in the top five runs getters so far in the IPL season and, therefore, India should look at one of Dhawan, Gambhir and Uthappa to replace KL Rahul for the Champions Trophy.