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How many of you have heard the commentary of a live cricket match on the radio in the past decade? To everyone’s surprise, I have.
This was the third Test match between India and Australia being played in Mohali in March 2013 and I myself was traveling to Ranchi to represent my college in a cultural fest by train.
I had no other option than to listen to the radio commentary as that wasn’t the era of high-speed 4G internet.
Michael Clarke and MS Dhoni were at the toss and soon the two captains talked about the playing XI. India finally gave the Test cap to Shikhar Dhawan.
I had watched him playing at the junior level and in the domestic circuit and found him to be someone who can make it big at the highest level. Well, this was his stage.
Batting first, Australia posted a total of 408 on the board and with the likes of Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, and Nathan Lyon, it looked an uphill task to nullify this score. But debutant Dhawan and Murali Vijay had some other plans.
Dhawan took on the Australian bowling attack right from the word go and stamped his authority to be seen as one of the strongest off-side players.
The left-handed batsman scored a record-breaking 187 off just 174 balls. But what set him apart was his scoring areas. Dhawan scored runs in every part of the park. he played some fine drives and cuts while scored runs on the on-side too.
The ton also etched his name in the record books as he notched up the fastest hundred by any batsman on debut – off 85 balls. India eventually won the match. But this was just the beginning of what was coming next.
Dhawan makes a name for himself
In the same year, skipper Dhoni experimented with the batting order in the Champions Trophy and asked Dhawan and Rohit Sharma to open.
Well, this decision of Dhoni didn’t just help India win the Champions Trophy but certainly solved the issue of having a perfect opening pair. Rohit and Dhawan have batted in 107 innings as openers, scoring 4802 runs at 45.30. They have had 16 centuries and 14 half-century partnerships.
Dhawan’s score tally in that tournament read 114, 102*, 48, 68, 31. A couple of centuries along with a half-century and the lowest personal score of 31 unfolded the batting talent this man had.
But this wasn’t the end of a spectacular 2013 season for Dhawan. He played an important role in India’s two most successful run chases against Australia at home.
India made a record of chasing down a total of more than 350 runs twice in one series and Dhawan was one of the stimulators in both of them. He scored 95 in one and a 100 in the other.
Cut to 2016 IPL. Dhawan had already earned a huge name for himself while donning the Indian jersey and had been a decent customer in the IPL too. In the 2016 edition, Dhawan notched up a total of 501 runs in 17 appearances for SRH.
Though he had once crossed the 500-run mark in the 2012 IPL the 2016 season kept greater importance as this turned out to be the winning triumph for Hyderabad.
Dhawan had been unstoppable from then on in the IPL. He has crossed the 400-run mark in all the season after the 2016 triumph.
Cut to his performance in the 2020 edition
“Today, it happened that way (that no one could stick around with me). I took the responsibility of holding one end up and was also hitting the boundaries when I got the chance,” said Delhi Capitals Shikhar Dhawan who created history against KXIP on Tuesday after becoming the first batsman to score two tons in consecutive matches in the IPL.
Well, Dhawan has been in sublime form in this tournament and his performance against the Punjab team was another instance of his excellence with the willow.
If we take a look at Dhawan’s score in this IPL, the left-handed batsman has been simply outstanding as far as the stats are concerned but what makes him a special cricketer is his stroke-play.
While the other DC batsmen faced difficulties in scoring runs at a strike-rate of over 100 against KXP, Shikhar was seen dancing down the track against the fast bowlers and smashed them through the covers and over long-on boundaries.
Dhawan remained unbeaten at 106 off 61 deliveries against KXIP. But what made the fans and pundits fall for his batting was that he scored runs on every part of the ground. The majority of his runs came at the on-side between the long-on and mid-wicket region.
He scored 50 out of the 106 runs through the on-side while got 36 through the off-side. The left-handed batsman also gathered 16 runs through the fine leg region while got 4 off them in the third man area.
While Dhawan’s strike-rate shows how settled he was out there in the middle with his strokes, the stats of his shots reveal the precision with which he had batted. But this is not the first instance where the opener had shown his ability to hit the ball all around the park.
Dhawan’s maiden hundred that came against CSK a few days had a similar story. He had scored the majority of his runs through on and offside against the Chennai franchise as well.
Another important stat that shows he is a brilliant player in playing the cut, drive, and pull shot. A fast bowler would try to trouble the batsman with a short delivery or would try to move the ball into or away from the batsman.
But Dhawan’s is well-equipped with his pull shot that a fast bowler would restrict himself from peppering him with short stuff.
While Dhawan can play a perfect pull shot, he can also drive and cut the ball through the covers. So a delivery moving away from him can’t be an option for the bowlers while a strong defensive shot also gets the inswinger out of the equation.
Talking about facing the spin bowling, Dhawan doesn’t really disappoint there too. He can come down the track and clear the boundary rope or has the power to “sit and deliver”. In fact, one of the three sixes against KXIP came in a similar manner when Dhawan judged the line and length pretty early and just delivered the ball over the long-on boundary for a maximum. A back of the length is also no option for a spinner as he cuts the ball really well.
From defence to drives to cut to pull, Dhawan certainly has all the shots in his arsenal that make him a complete batsman.
Dhawan’s form has been a huge reason for Delhi’s success so far in the competition but the other batsmen too need to get into the groove. He has so far scored two tons, two half-centuries, and also has three thirties to his name.
The opening batsman isn’t one match or one tournament-wonder but he has come through a long process to achieve what he has till date. While he has almost every shot in the book, he also has numbers to back his ability.