Many names have emerged from the Sunrisers Hyderabad’s squad this IPL season. From the skipper, David Warner, to Rashid Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Ashish Nehra, there has been no dearth of players who have done their bit in pushing the defending champions to the second place in the points table.
But, until his performance against the Delhi Daredevils on Wednesday, there was no mention whatsoever of Shikhar Dhawan. Furthermore, Warner scoring the bulk of runs at the top of the order also meant that his opening partner, and his fellow southpaw went completely under the radar.
Coincidentally then, Dhawan’s (eventual) rise to the thick of things came about because of Warner after the Australian lost his wicket – for once – cheaply in the Sunrisers’ match against the Daredevils. Dhawan lingered on at the field for almost the entirety of the 20-over count, patiently composing a 70-run knock off 50 runs. It the Delhi native’s first half-century in this year’s IPL, and his highest score in the six matches he has played in the tournament this far.
Opening up of opportunities
Statistically, thanks to this one knock, Dhawan also bettered his previous year’s IPL record averaging around 34.1 runs in these six matches at an aggregate total of 205 runs. In comparison, the 31-year-old had finished the 2016 season at an average of around 38.5, with a total of 501 runs scored across the 17 matches played that year.
Aside of statistical nitty-gritty, what has been most impressive about Dhawan this year around has been the maturity with which he has been playing, and even that has been largely obscured, or conveniently brushed aside.
Where in the past Dhawan’s flamboyance often had him throwing his wicket away needlessly while trying to take unnecessary risks, he’s taken a newer initiative in trying to add to his contributions on the field by being patient. And while it has not worked every time he has taken the field, it’s yielded some notable results too.
Dhawan’s allowing of Kane Williamson to take control of the proceedings despite the latter being the new batsman in on Tuesday struck out noticeably. But it wasn’t the first time that Dhawan has had given his partner room to play aggressively, even as he has maintained the pace of the innings from the other end, unburdened by pressure on his shoulders. That Warner has then emerged as the top run-getter in the league this year is then also because of the way the Sunrisers’ opening pair has functioned.
With the current context of cricket’s outreach avenues, the IPL – irrespective, and in spite, of its numerous debacles – holds quite a fine distinction in helping several players reassert their patchy form, even bringing them back to prominence. Not in the tournament and for their particular team alone, but in the international cricketing stages as well.
For Dhawan, who has had an extended length of inconsistencies of his own, this could be his chance to get back to donning the national colours again. Starting with the shortest format, all the way back up to the Test whites.