Australia in India 2017-18 September 14, 2017

Dhawan sidelined from first three ODIs against Australia

ESPNcricinfo staff

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Dasgupta: India may choose Rahane over Rahul to replace Dhawan as opener

Shikhar Dhawan will not play the first three ODIs against Australia. A press release from the BCCI said the India batsman has asked for leave to take care of his wife, who has taken ill.

The selectors have decided not to name a replacement for Dhawan, with back-up openers KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane already in 16-man squad.

India do have to contend with losing a player in excellent form though. He had missed the ODIs against New Zealand in 2016 - and played only two of three against England that followed - but since his return to the top of the order in the Champions Trophy, he has made two centuries and four fifties in 14 innings. Dhawan had to miss the final ODI and the only T20 in the Sri Lanka tour earlier this month to fly back home to attend to his mother who had been unwell.

It is likely that Rahane will now take over the opener's spot. He had been excellent in the West Indies in June and July, named the Man of the Series for his 336 runs in five innings. Four of them were fifty-plus scores.

Should that be the case, Rahul might have to get used to life in the middle order. His first time to the new role didn't go well - 28 runs in three innings in Sri Lanka - but he has the backing of the captain Virat Kohli, who has repeatedly called him a "champion" player.

India play the first of five ODIs against Australia on September 17 in Chennai.

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