Minerva Punjab FC continued their winning run in I-League after edging past Luis Norton de Matos-coached Indian Arrows with a 1-0 victory in Ludhiana on Monday.The match was headed into a certain draw but Bhutan international Chencho took the match away in the 80th minute with a brilliant solo effort.With the win, Minerva maintained their top spot in the league table with 13 points from five matches while Indian Arrows were seventh after three points from three games.Minerva had earlier defeated Indian Arrows 2-0 in the first leg in Goa.Home side Minerva made two changes from their game against Chennai City FC with Souvik Das and Lago Bei making way for Amandeep Singh and center back Sukhdev Singh.Indian Arrows made two changes in their squad from the last game as Aniket Jadhav, who scored 2 goals in the opening game against Chennai City, and central midfielder Abhijit Sarkar made way for attacking minded Rahim Ali and new comer Abhishek Halder respectively.Minerva Punjab completely outplayed Indian Arrows in the first half of play. Captain Kassim Aidara had an early opportunity in the 3rd minute to get his name on the scoresheet but his effort from four yards out went wide off the target.On the 15th minute mark, William’s powerful volley was somehow blocked by Indian Arrows’ defence line, when it almost looked like the action replay of his previous goal against Indian Arrows in Goa.The best chance of first half fell to Dano in 35th minute when he hit the post from a picture perfect diving volley. Meanwhile, Arrows goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem made two superb back-to-back saves in the 42nd minute to keep his team in the match.advertisementIndian Arrows somehow managed to keep the scoreline 0-0 at half time.The 2nd half was more even with Indian Arrows players starting to get into the rhythm of the game. They had more of the ball but still could not penetrate the strong defence of the Punjab club.Indian Arrows had the chance of the match in 53rd minute when KP Rahul ran down the right wing going one on one with Minerva goalkeeper Rakshit, who came out of his line and managed to put the ball out of danger in a heroic manner.Minerva, on the other hand, capitalised on their chance in the 80th minute when Chencho scored after sending two defenders the wrong way and hit a powerful low drive into the right corner giving no chance to Dheeraj.
World Cup-winning India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh said India will find it a little difficult to get the batting combination right in the absence of injured Shikhar Dhawan at the Cricket World Cup 2019.On Tuesday, it emerged that Shikhar Dhawan was ruled out of World Cup 2019 for 3 weeks after scans revealed he had a fractured thumb. Dhawan’s injury is a massive blow to India who have won both their matches so far in the tournament and are firm favourites to reach the semifinals.Shikhar Dhawan had sustained the injury during India’s 36-run victory over defending world champions Australia at The Oval. Despite the injury, Dhawan went on to score a stylish 117 as India posted a record 352 for 5 off their 50 overs.It is not yet clear whether the Indian team will name a replacement for Dhawan but chances are either Shreyas Iyer or Rishabh Pant could be called up to replace Shikhar Dhawan who has 6 hundreds in ICC tournaments.”If it is going to be 3 weeks, it means the majority of the tournament is gone. And without Shikhar Dhawan who was the Man of the Match against Australia, it means Indian team will find it a little bit difficult. You have another opener in KL Rahul but Rahul hasn’t opened in the recent past,” Harbhajan Singh told India Today.Harbhajan added: “It’s going to be a challenge. This is a big blow. I would have loved to see Shikhar playing all the games. He is a big-match player. It’s a good opportunity for Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant to be part of the squad. If anything goes wrong with Shikhar Dhawan for more than 3 weeks, then I would want to pick Pant.advertisement”Well, it could be 3 weeks depending on how bad the injury is. In the end, it will come down to how Shikhar Dhawan will feel batting with the injured finger. Even if the injury heals, it will depend on him to get fully fit. If Vijay Shankar comes in at No. 4, I don’t feel that confident about the move,” Harbhajan added.Harbhajan Singh also said Ajinkya Rahane can be tried as a replacement for Shikhar Dhawan if India decide to go in with experience.Notably, Rahane has been playing county cricket for Hampshire in the United Kingdom after the Indian Premier League 2019. The India batsman last played ODIs for the senior national team in February 2018 but Harbhajan feels his experience will come in handy in English conditions.”He [Rahane] is a very good option to be considered. He has been playing cricket here. He is one of the middle order batsmen to rely on. He has got the technique to bat at No.3, No.4. He was one of India’s best batsmen at the 2015 World Cup. It would be a bad call to ask him to join the team from here itself. I would still like to see the injury as to how long Shikhar Dhawan is gone. You can straightaway have him in the squad after it heals. You want to be fully fit. Shikhar Dhawan himself won’t take a chance. A fracture ideally takes more than 3 weeks,” Harbhajan said.However, Harbhajan said his first choice replacement for Dhawan would be Rishabh Pant: “At the moment, if I have to pick one replacement player, it would be Rishabh Pant or if you want to go for experience, then it would be Ajinkya Rahane.”India Today can confirm that Shikhar Dhawan is currently with physio Patrick Farhat as Team India wants the opener to be fit before the business end of the tournament. A final call on his availability is likely to be taken by the Board of Control for Cricket in India on Tuesday.Also Read | Rishabh Pant or Shreyas Iyer likely to replace injured Shikhar DhawanAlso Read | Watch: Yuzvendra Chahal beats Kuldeep Yadav in wrong arm shootoutAlso See: