Shikhar Dhawan’s form great platform to turnaround up-and-down career

With a century and four half-centuries in the last seven innings starting with the ICC Champions Trophy, Shikhar Dhawan surely seems to know what works for him.

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jun 27, 2017 15:05 IST
Siddhartha Sharma
Siddhartha Sharma
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Shikhar Dhawan,ICC Champions Trophy,Queen’s Park Oval
India's Shikhar Dhawan plays a shot during the second One-Day International (ODI) against the West Indies at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.(AFP)

During the first two ODIs against the West Indies at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, India opener Shikhar Dhawan looked in divine touch. His balance at the crease and shot selection highlighted his unwavering confidence, strong belief, a player in his zone. These are the days when Dhawan makes batting look so easy.

However, with India already turning their focus to the 2019 World Cup in the UK, it will be vital for the player to ensure there is no repeat of his fluctuating performances of the past.

With a century and four half-centuries in the last seven innings starting with the ICC Champions Trophy, Dhawan surely seems to know what works for him. However, the attacking left-hander has too often in the past seen a spell of good run followed by a slump, sometimes brought about by an eagerness to get after the bowling too early.

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In Tests, Dhawan averages just over 38, which show how frailties in technique hurt him in bowler-friendly conditions.

He has played 13 Tests outside the subcontinent, but has just one century and three fifties to show for. That century, 115 in the Auckland Test on the 2014 New Zealand tour had come in the second innings when the drop-in pitch had eased.

Great start

Dhawan, who made a dream Test debut in 2013 scoring a record score for a debutant (187), didn’t click in South Africa at the end of the year and then struggled in England, wasting starts in Australia too, in the next tour. That saw his omission and the debut of KL Rahul.

Back in the subcontinent, Dhawan scored back-to-back tons in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, but the second effort in Galle also saw him suffer a hand fracture to be sidelined.

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In ODIs too, it has been a case of ups and downs. Take the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. He got two successive hundreds and a fifty in five matches but in the Tri-series that followed in the West Indies, his best was 69 with many starts not converted into big ones.

In early 2015, Dhawan failed in the ODI series in Australia. His lows were more due to his anxiety to find quick runs early. He also flopped against South Africa in the home series defeat in 2015.

In last year’s Test tour of the West Indies, Dhawan started well, but failed in two matches in a row to be dropped. It was only a continuation of how his career had panned out from the start.

Back home, recalled for the second Test against New Zealand in Kolkata after KL Rahul was injured, he suffered a hand injury which ended his hopes of cashing in on the packed home season.

Technical weakness

However, Dhawan has been given a long rope in ODIs, which has helped maintain a healthy average in the format. With a limited technique, he has also been less troubled as the wickets are easier to bat on in the format.

But Dhawan’s commitment to make a comeback has stood him in good stead. After a good domestic season, he scored runs in the 2017 IPL to help Sunrisers Hyderabad reach the final. KL Rahul’s shoulder injury opened the doors for Dhawan and he has been solid since then.

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India have a long season ahead, and Dhawan maintaining his form will ease the team’s opening worries. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, with the advantage of a left-right combination, have a healthy combined average of 48, having scored 2879 runs in 61 innings.

But with Ajinkya Rahane, now partnering him in the West Indies, and a recovering KL Rahul breathing down his neck, Dhawan can’t afford to relax.

With three ODIs to go before the lone T20 in the West Indies, consistency, even if it is against a second string side, will keep him in the frame for the Sri Lanka tour next month.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 08:32 IST