What comes to your mind when the word Shikar Dhawan is thrown at you? Don’t like him? Like him? Here catch a Frisbee: you can no longer hide behind your Shikhar Dhawan dilemma.
You love pretty much everything that Virat does; some even defend that nasty aggression. You perennially love Yuvraj, having emotionally ridden alongside him as he recuperated, combatted and reemerged into the sport. You don’t quite care much about Pujara, unless you are a Test lover. And, you remain ever divided on Rohit.
But what’s your hang up with Dhawan?
To the untrained eye of millions of cricket phonetics, of which am a part, Dhawan’s the man for the moment but he’s never had it easy.
Prior to the Champion’s Trophy, the famous moustache twirler was India’s most in-form batsman.
But it’s unlikely that many gave him a chance. Was it because on a number of occasions, he had trained himself to throw away those quintessential fluent starts?
Who’s to know? Or, was Dhawan in that ‘big-stage’ contention because he was the highest run scorer in the IPL amongst his compatriots? The blitzkrieg’s he blazed alongside a Warner and on other occasions, Henriques, rendered him a world of good.
Ever the symbol berated for those consistency issues, it had begun to seem that Shikhar was ready to climb a peak come June’s sizzling ICC Champions Trophy.
Here’s a perspective
Maybe the reason for Dhawan’s renewed vigour is more than what greets the eye.
Kohli was surprisingly out of sorts, in the IPL.
Dhoni, besides a couple of good knocks, didn’t really set the stage on fire.
Dhawan’s good friend and limited overs opener, Rohit was feeling it up on his way back from injury.
Yuvraj and Kedar Jhadav too didn’t seem to possess the form that would do wonders
Still, almost unfathomably, it was Dhawan’s form and place in the side that came under the hammer. You know the vicious Indian scrutiny that happens at the tea-stalls in Patna’s college canteens to critical sessions under blue-eyed skies of Mumbai’s Marine Drive.
Why then, is Dhawan, fastest to reach 1000 runs in ICC Champion’s Trophy, ahead of Tendulkar and Waugh doubted- is something that finds least interest, perhaps lagging behind Virat’s constantly changing facial hair styles.
Could it be that he’s our favourite lamb we lead to slaughter?
Purists would note, whether it was in his scintillating ton against the Proteas in 2015 World Cup or his recent fighting hundred against Sri Lanka, the leftie’s craft lends able compliment to partner Rohit’s big-hitting ways.
Together in tandem, they work up a fire that eases it out for Kohli and co.
Even as Dhawan’s recent fifty against Pakistan was a sigh of relief for many, it wasn’t too hard to sense that the impact it had on India’s match winning total wasn’t given due credit.
At 31, Dhawan is amongst most experienced members of the team. He’s been part of the ODI setup for nearly 4 years.
That marvellous hundred plundered at The Oval against Sri Lanka was his 8th since the last Champions Trophy.
Only Kohli and Rohit have scored more ODI runs than Dhawan during that period.
So when’s it that you’re going to change your perspective say about the Jason Statham of Cricket?
With his last century, Dhawan also became the fastest Indian to score 10 ODI centuries, the feat previously held by Kohli.
If that was not enough, Dhawan’s average in the last 5 ODI innings before the Champions Trophy indicates 56.8: 2 half centuries and a century.
Dazzling? Or not nearly there still?
Despite the highs his willow has produced, it seems, every now and again, Dhawan stands on the brink of being dropped.
Much like his former teammate, Sehwag, Dhawan’s an exuberant character.
The jokes from the slip cordon or familiar nonchalance from the non-striker’s end- always cracks up his teammates.
Such is the persona of the easygoing bloke, whose moustache twirling became the talk of the town after he slammed his maiden and also, the fastest century on debut. Against Australia, mind you.
For someone who has a reputation of being a stroke maker, Dhawan doesn’t have every shot in the book though.
You don’t regard Shikhar Dhawan for his studious defences, or do you?
It’s the trademark cuts, square on the off side along with the bottom handed flicks and, stellar off drives that bind viewers to his game.
He might not be the most technically sound bat either.
Constant as explained by his struggles in the Test arena are a testimony to that.
But a phenomenon that had more far-reaching undercurrents than lack of vote count on pole day in India was Dhawan’s barren form in the longest format.
So dull was it that it eventually started having consequences on his ODI career, a format in which he has been most consistent.
Recent stats explain the consistency he has enjoyed in 50-over Cricket.
Except for the period between late 2013-2014, where he went 8 innings without a fifty, the longest stretch between him scoring two 50s- from 5 innings- has happened only once.
If anything, it’s Dhawan’s struggle to cement a Test spot that has often earned him ire from fans that rather unjustifiably forget his brilliance in limited over cricket.
But till when can our ignorance duck under cover?