The only left-hander in the India top-order has been one of its pillars of the team for some years now. Shikhar Dhawan’s talent and temperament help provide India the explosive starts that can push the rival teams on the back foot pretty quickly and help the team gain a firm grip on the match. His ability to pace the innings is no less than anyone else’s in the side and his contribution in denting the confidence and figures of the rival bowlers make him a feared batsman. The sound combination that he and Rohit Sharma form can give the team a head-start of the opposition.
He was allowed a break from cricket when not selected in the Test team that won the series for the first time in Australia. The decision was rooted in the philosophy of keeping him fresh for the World Cup. However, when he returned, he did not seem to have gained significantly from the rest. If anything, he seemed a bit off-colour, leading to some whispers about his declining returns in international cricket. Batting coach Sanjay Bangar spoke about the left-hander’s shot selection.
But, as always, he bounced back strong and ended up as the highest run-getter (fourth highest overall) for Delhi Capitals with 521 runs at an average of 34.73.
Dhawan is known to hit the straps in the big-ticket events. And he is also known to repay the faith shown in him by the team management. He did it in the 2015 World Cup with a sparkling century against South Africa in Melbourne. More recently, he drew on his ability to keep his mind in the present rather than let it dwell on the failures and made 143 against Australia in Mohali. It was a classic example of quietening the whispers. It will be only fair that he is expected to be at the forefront of India’s campaign in the World Cup this time around by drawing on his ability to express himself, especially in ICC tournaments.