The fact that Shikhar Dhawan got a chance to open ahead of Gautam Gambhir in the second Test was a fair decision. Dhawan was in the original squad as an opener ahead of Gambhir. But, there were a number of fans who were hoping for Gambhir to be selected ahead of Dhawan, although the latter hadn't played Test cricket for two years, and his record in his last few games has been as poor as Dhawan's if not worse. And, the worst fears of Dhawan's critics came true as he fell cheaply in both the innings to put India in early trouble. In the wake of his constant failures, Dhawan's Test career is now in serious trouble.
Dhawan was lucky to get his opportunity in the first place. When both Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay were fit in the first Test, Dhawan was made to sit out. That sent out a clear signal as to who the regular openers were. As such, Dhawan got an important break when he was chosen to open for the second Test. But, he has let the team down by failing in both the innings. He was under extreme pressure to perform, and keep his place in the team. And, he succumbed to the same. The Eden track has proved to be a tough surface for batsmen, but not an unplayable one as Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wriddhiman Saha displayed in the first innings.
Technique has always been the big issue with Dhawan's batting. But, the main problem with his batting is that he is struggling not only in foreign conditions, but at home as well, in familiar environs. He was bowled in the first innings, and trapped lbw in the second, which indicates that he is definitely not in the right frame of mind. It is perhaps best that Dhawan goes back to the domestic grind, and tries to get his confidence back. There is no guarantee that Gambhir will succeed if he is chosen ahead of Dhawan for the next game. But, he definitely has a better chance of doing well considering he has been among the runs in recent times.
In all fairness to Dhawan, he has been given plenty of opportunities to establish himself, but hasn't grabbed those chances. If you look at his recent record, it clearly points towards the same. After scoring an impressive 84 at the start of the West Indies tour, he followed that up with 27, 1, and 26, and ended up losing his place in the team. After having to sit out of the first Test, the injury to Rahul opened up the doors for him again, but he could not pounce on the opportunities. Before that he struggled against South Africa as well even as India swept the Proteas. Dhawan's lack of prowess was exposed in the format again, as he managed a highest score of 45 not out.
The one reason Dhawan has got constant opportunities to redeem himself is because he has made some significant scores in between the disappointing run of failures. He got back-to-back hundreds last year, in the one-off Test against Bangladesh followed by the first Test in Galle. A couple of years back, he resurrected his sinking Test career with a hundred and a 98 in tough batting conditions in New Zealand. Back then, it seemed he may have found a way to get runs in Test cricket. But, as his recent record shows, he still has a long way to go. It is too early to bring down the curtains on Dhawan's Test career. But, he needs a break for sure.
--By A Cricket Analyst