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Big blow for India as Dhawan ruled out of Cricket World Cup

India opener Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of the Cricket World Cup on Wednesday because of a broken left thumb, handing one of the title favorites its first big problem this tournament. Scans showed Dhawan sustained a fracture when he was hit on the hand off a rising delivery by Australia fast bowler Pat Cummins in a group game on June 9. Dhawan will remain in a cast until the middle of July, India said.

The International Cricket Council approved Rishabh Pant, who has been in England on standby, as the replacement for Dhawan in India's 15-man squad. Dhawan posted a video on social media to confirm his exit from the tournament and to thank supporters.

"I feel emotional to announce that I will no longer be a part of," the World Cup, he wrote. "Unfortunately, the thumb won't recover on time. But the show must go on. I'm grateful for all the love & support from my team mates, cricket lovers & our entire nation."

In the video, he said it was time for him to recover and prepare for India's next series. "I really wanted to play the World Cup and represent my country," he said. "The boys (are) doing a great job at the moment and going to do really good and win the World Cup."

The 33-year-old opener might prove to be irreplaceable, though, especially on English soil. Dhawan's 109-ball 117 against Australia — completed with that injured, bandaged left thumb — meant he became the first Indian player to score four ODI centuries in England and the fastest to reach 1,000 ODI runs in England (in 19 innings).

He was the player of the tournament in the 2013 Champions Trophy staged in England, scoring 363 runs in five matches at an average of 90.75. He was also India's top scorer in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the 2017 Champions Trophy, also held in England.

Dhawan and fellow opener Rohit Sharma have struck up one of the world's great ODI partnerships, both reaching triple figures in this World Cup already as India started with three wins and one no result from its first four games.

KL Rahul was promoted to open last weekend in the win over Pakistan at Manchester, and scored 57 in a 136-run opening stand with Sharma, who scored 140. India's next game is against Afghanistan in Southampton on Saturday.

Pant, a left-handed middle-order wicketkeeper-batsman, made his debut last October and has played five ODIs, for an average of 23.25.

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