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Shikhar the mover starts in style

cricket Updated: Jun 07, 2013 09:36 IST
Rohit Bhaskar
Rohit Bhaskar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Shikhar Dhawan has a thing for making first impressions. Few remember his impressive performance in the 2004 U-19 World Cup. Few can forget his brilliant Test debut in Mohali earlier this year.

Sandwiched between the two was an international debut to forget. In an ODI against Australia in 2010 he was bowled off the second ball. He was given a further four innings in the West Indies following India's 2011 ODI World Cup triumph. He started well, with a fifty, but fell cheaply in the next three innings.

His ODI stats read five matches, 69 runs, 13.80 average, 56.09 strike-rate. Not figures that did justice to his unquestionable talent. It would be two years before he got his chance again.

Tunes, tattoos
In the time he added to his collection of tattoos, including one on his left wrist of his wife's maiden name, he started listening to the soulful chimes of Sufi music and also grew a moustache that would assume iconic status after his debut pyrotechnics in Mohali.

This was Shikhar 2.0. New and improved, the talent remained but now he started showing the heart of a lion, much like the king of the jungle he has inked on his body.

In his first international match since that dream Test debut against Australia, the man from Delhi's Paschim Vihar showed that his success won't end up as a flash in the pan.

After South Africa won the toss on an overcast morning it was little wonder that they opted to have a bowl.

Dhawan weathered the initial storm. He got just 6 runs from the first 15 balls he faced. In the pre-match presser, captain MS Dhoni had stressed on the importance of a cautious start, he said 40 would be a good score after the opening 10 overs when the powerplay is on and only two fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.

Good, but only if they didn't lose any wickets, Dhoni stressed. Dhawan, it seemed, was just playing out the skipper's well-laid plans.

Classy shot
Off the 16th ball he faced he shimmied down the track to Lonwabo Tsotsobe and drove the ball past extra-cover.

The stroke did his confidence no harm, even while new opening partner Rohit Sharma hoarded much of the early strike.

After Sharma departed for a well-crafted 65, Dhawan took over. He'd scored 52 off 48 when Rohit fell to Ryan McLaren.

He would get his next 50 runs off just 32 deliveries. Tsotobe was at the receiving end, Dhawan's massive six off the left-arm pacer being the pick of the shots.

He brought up his century with back-to-back boundaries. There's no looking back now!