India opener Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the upcoming five-T20I series in New Zealand because of the shoulder injury he picked up during the third ODI against Australia in Bengaluru on Sunday. Dhawan did not travel with the India squad that left for Auckland on Monday and the selectors have not named a replacement yet.
Dhawan fell awkwardly on his left shoulder while diving to stop a drive from Aaron Finch at cover-point in the fifth over of Australia's innings in the series decider. He soon left the field clutching his shoulder, and didn't come out to bat in India's chase as he was rushed to a hospital during the match for X-rays. The Hindu reported that Dhawan had hurt the AC joint on the shoulder which is between the collar bone and shoulder blade. He was later spotted in the Indian dressing room with his arm in a sling as India won by seven wickets.
The T20I series begins on January 24, and will be followed by a series of three ODIs from February 5. In case Dhawan doesn't recover in time for those games, India have the option of picking up any of Sanju Samson, Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw, all of whom are already in New Zealand with the India A squad for a three-match one-day series that begins on Wednesday. Shubman Gill, who made his ODI debut in New Zealand last year, is also in in the country with the A squad.
Of the four, Samson is the only one with a T20I cap (two of them), and even played a game against Sri Lanka earlier this month before being left out of the New Zealand series because of the return of Rohit Sharma, who was rested earlier. That should make Samson the frontrunner as replacement, but Shaw could also be in contention after his 100-ball 150 in a 50-over warm-up game against a New Zealand XI on Sunday. Agarwal scored 32 and 8 in the two-warm-ups, Shaw played only the second one after recovering from an injury, while Gill scored 24 and 50, and Samson scored 4 in the first game.
Dhawan had injured his left leg before the West Indies T20I series last year, and Samson had replaced him at the time.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo