Sunrisers-Hyderabad-Shikhar-Dhawan-plays-a-shot
At a staggering average of 57.16, Shikhar Dhawan has scythed 343 runs in IPL 2016 © AFP

Shikhar Dhawan was replaced by Ajinkya Rahane in the semi-final of ICC World T20 2016 as he consistently failed to go all guns blazing and provide impetus at the top-order. To make matters worse, he scored in single digit in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s (SRH) first three matches of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016. However, he just needed one blistering innings to find his feet and get back to firing on all cylinders. And he did so with ease and grace. Though his half-century of IPL 9 came in a low-scoring contest against Gujarat Lions (GL), it was an innings of substance; simply because GL’s bowling attack featured the likes of Dale Steyn, Dyane Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja to name a few. Live Cricket Scorecard: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Delhi Daredevils, IPL 2016, Match 42 at Hyderabad

Since then, he has been in an ominous touch and one of the reasons why SRH managed to consistently put up clinical performances. At a staggering average of 57.16, he has scythed 343 runs in 10 contests. Moreover, to score these many runs at a strike-rate of 117.06 is not an easy task. And, to do it effortlessly (time an again) is even tougher in one of the most celebrated T20 domestic tournament in the world. What’s more swashbuckling about his stellar performance is that he played under David Warner’s shadow. In fact, Warner has scored 126 runs more in the same number of matches but his average exceeds by only 1.46 per innings runs than Dhawan’s. Indeed, he played a second fiddle in every SRH win. What’s commendable is that he was happy to so so. Preview: SRH, DD face battle of nerves

Every time he scored 30-plus runs, SRH managed to come up victorious. And this has happened five times so far. Moreover, in SRH’s 7 wins, Dhawan helped them get over the line thrice while chasing. Thus, it is safe to say he is  yet another modern-day cricketer who thrives under pressure. To add more fire, his three match-winning knocks came when SRH lost wickets at regular intervals. He made sure he puts value on his wicket and stays till the end. Such has been Dhawan’s role in SRH’s pursuit of reaching to top of the points table.

He hasn’t been deservedly given enough credit. It was either Warner or one of SRH’s fierce bowlers who stole his thunder. With three unbeaten 50-plus score he has to his name but still wasn’t declared Player of the Match even once. Read: David Warner is dead serious about his cricket these days, says Ravi Shastri

With their all-round performance this year, SRH is in top contention to clinch IPL 9 trophy. And, for them to do so, Dhawan will have to continue applying himself sensibly. He has displayed nerves of steel despite being bogged down and without making enough headlines.

Indeed, the Gabbar of Indian cricket has been SRH’s silent killer.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)