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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.

Tests 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.

Rishabh Pant, who has been on standby, will replace Dhawan in the squad.

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.

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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More AP cricket: www.apnews.com/cricket and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

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