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It was just about a year ago that Shikhar Dhawan tore a good Australian bowling attack to shreds, en route to a blistering 187 on Test debut. Since then, Dhawan has seen some outstanding highs but also a few disappointing lows, especially in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 7. Shiamak Unwalla tries to decode the Dhawan enigma.
Shikhar Dhawan is a very simple batsman. If he thinks a ball is there to be hit, he will back himself and hit it. It is a principle that has paid him rich dividends in both domestic and international cricket. After setting the record for the fastest century on Test debut, he went on to put together a string of centuries in One-Day Internationals (ODIs) as well. He had a sensational year in 2013, and was the toast of the nation along with Virat Kohli.
In 2014, however, Dhawan seems to have tapered off entirely. Barring a couple of very good Test innings in New Zealand, Dhawan has had a tough time in International cricket. To compound matters, he was dropped midway through the ICC World T20 2014. Coming into the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, he was short on form and confidence.
While Dhawan enjoys an enviable IPL record — he has scored over 300 runs in an IPL season on four occasions while breaching the 550-run barrier once — he is yet to score a fifty this season. Unless he gets a fifty in the next three games, this will be the first time since the year 2009 — where he played just five games — that Dhawan has gone an entire season without scoring a half-century.
To complicate matters, he was captain of the side. While Dhawan said in a recent interview that captaincy does not affect his batting, it was perhaps a worry he could have done without. So far in 11 innings he has scored just 234 runs at 21.27 with a high score of 45. This opposed to his career average of over 30 with 16 fifties.
He has been threatening to break free for a few games now, but seems to keep finding ways of getting out. He has been dismissed playing the pull shot or the cut shot more times than is acceptable. In his last couple of games, he has top-edged a sweep shot, played down the wrong line to a straight ball, and hit an innocuous delivery on leg stump into the hands of short fine leg. This says a lot about the state of mind he is in. His simple approach to batting is unnecessarily clouded. He gives the impression that he isn’t playing the ball on its merits but deciding where to hit the ball before it leaves the bowler’s hand.
Perhaps with the replacement of Darren Sammy as Sunrisers Hyderabad’s(SRH) new captain, Dhawan can stop over-thinking and go out and play his reflexive game. By the law of averages, he is due for a big score. The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) are in direct competition with SRH for a spot in the top four, and if Dhawan can unleash his fury on them, it will do Hyderabad’s chances of qualifying a world of good.
(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)
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