Adelaide: Out-of-form opener Shikhar Dhawan's place in the playing XI will be one of the primary discussion point when the Indian team management zeroes in on the playing XI against arch rivals Pakistan in the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup, here tomorrow.
If one goes by the cues from the nets, then Dhawan doesn't look a likely starter for the crunch match. In fact, the Delhi opener wasn't even present during the major part of India's two and half hours of gruelling training session at the Adelaide Oval while the other players went through the grind with a lot of intensity.
Save Dhawan, almost all the batsmen did their regular routines. Batting against pace in one of the nets, batting against spin in another while also taking the throwdowns from Raghavendra and Sanjay Bangar.
While the bowlers did separate spot bowling training inside the main stadium, Dhawan wasn't seen anywhere during the first two hours. However he did come in the end and took throwdowns from Bangar. Normally, the ones who bat last in the nets are those, who don't figure in the playing XI.
It is not a clear indication but scores of 2, 1, 8, 38, 59, 4 (last two being warm-up games) doesn't augur well for Dhawan, who has struggled against away going deliveries with little clue about his off-stump.
Dhoni, however, chose to defend Dhawan vehemently at the press conference when asked if he has thought anything about Dhawan's form.
"We have not though anything on those lines about Shikhar Dhawan. Tomorrow if someone suggests that Mohammed Shami should open the batting in place of Dhawan, do we pay heed to such suggestions," said Dhoni.
Ambati Rayudu should be Dhawan's replacement in the playing XI but to be fair to the Hyderabadi, despite his plucky 50 against Australia in the warm-up game, he has had a fair bit of struggle against rising deliveries.