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Ruturaj Gaikwad providing stiff competition to Shikhar Dhawan for South Africa ODIs: Young opening batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad, owing to his sublime form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy, is giving a stiff competition to veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan for team India’s backup opener in the ODI series against South Africa.

The Indian team is scheduled to fly to South Africa on December 16th for the three matches Test and ODI series apiece. While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced the new leader of India’s white-ball squad, the board is yet to announce the ODI squad for the tour.

It has been learnt that Ruturaj Gaikwad has almost confirmed his ticket for the South Africa ODIs. He is continuing his stellar form in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy with three back to back tons.

Gaikwad also won the Orange Cap in the recently held IPL 2021 and now has smacked three consecutive centuries for Maharashtra. He scored 136 runs against Madhya Pradesh, an unbeaten 154 against Chattisgarh and 124 runs versus Kerala. 

On the other side, seasoned campaigner Shikhar Dhawan has failed to convince the selectors. His scores in the ongoing VHT remained 0, 12, 14 and 18.

Dhawan is no longer a part of India’s T20I squad. Several young players such as Ishan Kishan, Prithvi Shaw and Ruturaj Gaikwad have already replaced him in the shortest format squad. He was even axed from India’s T20 World Cup 2021 squad due to his poor form.

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If we go by the trend with head coach Rahul Dravid, he likes to give experienced players one final chance. He has backed the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma, who are enduring a pale form, in the test. Dhawan is likely to get a nod for the South Africa tour.

Venkatesh Iyer confirmed to travel to South Africa:

Another young player that has impressed the selectors is all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer. It seems like the southpaw has also confirmed his berth for the South Africa ODIs.

Iyer has mustered two centuries in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy matches. On his part, he has also scalped a few wickets to show his all-rounder skills. Though, as of now, he doesn’t seem to be a perfect replacement for Hardik Pandya, however, Iyer is convinced to take up the finisher’s role for India.

“Venkatesh is surely going to South Africa. He is bowling 9 or 10 overs in every game and with Hardik still recuperating, it is the best time to give him chance and get him battle-ready for the bigger events ahead,” a BCCI source privy to selection committee discussion told PTI on Sunday.

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