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India vs Australia: Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form augurs well for India ahead of World Cup

Dhawan’s contribution in the 50-over format can be gauged from the fact that the southpaw has finished as the highest run-getter for India in all three ICC tournaments since 2013.

cricket Updated: Mar 11, 2019 15:33 IST
Arnab Sen
Arnab Sen
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ind v Aus,India vs Australia,Mohali ODI
India cricketer Shikhar Dhawan raises his bat to acknowledge the crowd as he walks back after his dismissal during the fourth one-day international (ODI) cricket match between India and Australia at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali on March 10, 2019.(AFP)

It was exactly 6 years ago on a sunny morning at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, a southpaw announced his arrival at the international scene. The Indian selectors had finally decided to pull the carpet from underneath the feat of a colossus as Shikhar Dhawan was drafted into the team to replace the struggling Virender Sehwag. Dhawan would go on to mesmerise the crowd with an avalanche of boundaries and sixes against Australia and grabbed his chance with both hands. Sehwag never played another international match for India thereafter.

Dhawan suffered an injury in the same match, but his performance had finally kick started his India career, which had begun with an unceremonious duck against the same opposition in an ODI in October 2010. In the years that followed, the Delhi batsman became a mainstay in India’s top order and forged an impregnable partnership with Rohit Sharma in limited overs cricket.

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It was Dhawan’s characteristic blitz at the top of the order that helped India clinch the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, the last major ICC tournament that the team has won. His contribution in the 50-over format can be gauged from the fact that Dhawan has finished as the highest run-getter for India in all three ICC tournaments since 2013.

2013 Champions Trophy

Matches: 5, Runs: 363, Average: 90.75

2015 World Cup

Matches: 8, Runs: 412, Average: 51.50

2017 Champions Trophy

Matches: 5, Runs: 338, Average: 67.60

On Sunday Dhawan again chose Mohali to give a timely reminder to everyone of his ability to chalk up big runs, stroking his way to a career-best 143 in the fourth ODI. That India lost the match despite piling 358 on the board is another issue, but Dhawan had done his bit for the team.

His inability to perform in Test cricket outside the sub-continent saw him lose his spot in the longest format last year. That was followed by a rare lean spell in limited overs cricket and all this culminated into the opener getting dropped from the top bracket of BCCI’s recently released annual contracts.

ALSO READ: Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan set multiple records after Mohali onslaught

Suddenly the world around Dhawan was caving in and it needed a booster shot from somewhere. That came at Mohali as the southpaw showed his flair and timing on a helpful track. Out of the 16 centuries Dhawan has hit in ODIs, India have been on the right side of the result on 13 occasions. This clearly shows that the team benefits every time Dhawan gets a big score.

With the World Cup just months away, Dhawan’s return to form is as good as gold for Virat Kohli and the Indian team management. This not only releases the pressure on Kohli and Rohit Sharma, it also guarantees big scores for India, which will be crucial in England as the showpiece tournament is expected to be played on flat tracks.

Add to that the fact that Dhawan will be turning out for his home team Delhi Capitals in the IPL and ‘Gabbar’ has got a chance to prove a lot of people wrong in the days to come.

First Published: Mar 11, 2019 15:32 IST