With his failure in the first Test against New Zealand, Shikhar Dhawan’s scorecard in his last seven Test outings makes a pathetic reading: 132 runs at an average of a mere 18.87.
Wind back to March 2013. Dhawan burst into the Test arena with a brilliant 187 in 174 balls on debut against Australia at Mohali. Fans and experts both were quick to proclaim that India had found another Sehwag. Since then, it has been a downhill journey with scores reading 23, 33, 13, 15, 29, 19 and 0.
To be fair to him, Dhawan's overall figures are not all that bleak. He has scored 319 runs at an average of 39.87 from eight Test innings so far. But take away the 187, and his average falls to a lowly 18.87. Comparatively speaking, his performance abroad has been worse. In the five innings he has played on foreign soil, he has scored a total of 76 runs, at an average of 15.2.
The way he has given his wicket away has been worrying his fans and cricket experts alike. In his second Test against West Indies in Kolkata, he was bowled trying to play a spinner without moving his feet. The next match saw him getting out attempting a slog sweep, a shot that does not feature among the best ones for a Test match.
What follows is a string of soft dismissals - mistimed pulls, prods to short balls outside the off stump and manic attempts to hit his way out of trouble. His dismissal on Friday followed the pattern.
Chasing a massive score of 503, the opener fell on the second ball of the innings without troubling the scorers. Trent Boult bowled short of length into the pads. All he needed to do at that stage was defend it with soft hands. Instead he made a clumsy, hard handed attempt to turn it towards midwicket. All he managed was a simple catch to Kane Williamson at gully.
Experts still hold that Dhawan has a lot of natural talent, it is his temperament that is questionable. Sunil Gavaskar writes this in a column in Daily Mail: "Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu can achieve a lot more if only they can combine talent and temperament."
Former captain Mohammad Azharuddin echoes the sentiment, "I had observed Shikhar's problem with short ball when he played for India in the Champions Trophy in England. He doesn't leave the rising deliveries and has a tendency to awkwardly fend at it which is wrong."
With his repeated failures, many are wondering if Dhawan is a one-match wonder and if it is time to look back at other options, Gautam Gambhir for example, to open the innings for India.