Shikhar Dhawan has been in blistering form of late © AFP
Shikhar Dhawan has been in blistering form of late © AFP

Shikhar Dhawan had played 12 Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is) for India before he took field against Sri Lanka at Ranchi in the second match of the series. In those 12 matches, he had crossed 40 just once, and 30 three more times. He had six single-digit scores as well. Dhawan had proved all his detractors wrong in One-Day Internationals (ODIs), and to a lesser extent even in Tests. He averages over 40 in both those formats. In T20Is he averages less than 20. But Dhawan was promising an innings of substance for some time now. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs Sri Lanka 2015-16, 2nd T20I at Ranchi

Dhawan’s last few T20I innings were telling. After falling for 5 in the first T20I at Adelaide he had scored a ferocious 42 off 32 balls at Sydney and an absolutely brutal 9-ball 26 at Sydney. He had an off day in the first T20I against Sri Lanka at Pune, falling for a 13-ball 9. At Ranchi he was back at his best. READ: All-round India thrash Sri Lanka by 69 runs in 2nd T20I at Ranchi to level series 1-1

Dhawan hit his fifth ball, bowled by eventual hat-trick taker Thisara Perera, for a pick-up six over midwicket; three balls later he slog-swept Sachitra Senanayake for another six. Kasun Rajitha was hit for three back-to-back boundaries in his next over. Then Senanayake was hit for consecutive fours in his next over. Perera was again hit for two back-to-back boundaries as well. Dhawan had scored 50 off 22 balls. Though he was dismissed soon thereafter, he had done his job to get India off to a flying start. READ: MS Dhoni and Ranchi: India vs Sri Lanka 2015-16 2nd T20I

Dhawan seems to have finally decoded T20I batting. It seems to be a trend for him that when approaches an innings with caution he ends up scratching around and getting out without making much of a contribution, but when he starts off aggressively he usually ends up getting India off to an excellent start, even if he gets out without making a big score. His strike rate in such innings ensures that India have the early momentum. READ: Thisara Perera and other T20I hat-tricks

At the moment it seems India’s batting is functioning to a plan. Dhawan takes on the bowling early, Rohit takes his time and starts attacking once set and Kohli plays till the end, with the rest of the batting providing the big shots. It is a strategy that could be a huge success if executed properly.

For now Dhawan seems to be doing his bit by getting India off to a great start. He seems to have finally unlocked the key to batting in T20Is. India will hope he can continue his dominance into the upcoming Asia Cup T20 and ICC World T20 2016.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)