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.
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.
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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.
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