Shikhar Dhawan registered yet another fifty this season – his third-consecutive half century and fifth of the season and gave Delhi a platform to set an imposing total against RCB, which ultimately proved too much and gave Delhi victory ensuring them of a playoff berth.
Dhawan showed his aggressive intent early in his innings today when he charged Umesh Yadav and sliced him over cover point in the very first over of the match. He continued to attack and deposited Yuzvnedra Chahal straight over the bowler’s head for a maximum and followed that with a flick over fine-leg. He welcomed Navdeep Saini with another flick over fine leg into the crowds. Dhawan looked in ominous touch, his shot selection was immaculate and he was timing the ball to perfection.
With the Kotla wicket expected to get slow in the second half of the innings, Dhawan wanted to make the new ball and the powerplay count. And so he did!
Delhi raced to 59 for 1 after the powerplay. Dhawan contributed 30 off just 19 deliveries in this phase of play.
Dhawan continued to pick the gaps with ease and regularly got the boundaries. He scooped Marcus Stoinis over the keeper’s head for a boundary and shortly after registered his 37th IPL fifty – off just 36 deliveries, including 5 fours and 2 sixes.
He was dismissed soon after but not before he had given Delhi a platform with a 68-run stand for the second-wicket with Shreyas Iyer. Delhi had reached 103 for 1 in 12.1 overs when the southpaw was dismissed.
It was an excellent knock by Dhawan who read the pitch and conditions well. He took calculated risks upfront keeping in mind the tendency of the wicket to get slower as the match progressed.
Delhi stumbled in the middle order but courtesy a cameo from Sherfane Rutherford posted a more than competitive 187 for 5 in the allotted 20 overs.
It was Dhawan’s innings and his partnership with Iyer which laid the foundation for a big Delhi score.
Dhawan has registered 5 fifties and three other 30-plus scores (between 30 and 45) in this tournament. His 8 30-plus scores in the season are second only to Warner’s 9.
He now aggregates 451 runs in 12 innings at an average of 41 and strike rate of 137.08 for Delhi this season – and is the second-highest scorer of IPL XII after Warner.
Dhawan did not have a great start to the season and was either too slow or not getting the big scores in the first half of the tournament. This role he was playing of an ‘anchor’ was affecting Delhi adversely, putting pressure on their middle-order and they won only three of their first six matches.
Dhawan scored 152 runs at an average of 25.33 and a poor strike rate of 116.03 with a boundary every 6.55 deliveries in these matches.
And then came the transformation. Dhawan switched roles from anchor to ‘aggressor’ and not only did this change his personal fortunes but also of the team. Dhawan has scored 299 runs at an average of 59.8 and a strike rate of 151.01 in the six matches in the latter half of Delhi’s campaign. He has scored in excess of a strike rate of 135 in 5 of these 6 innings. His frequency of hitting a boundary has also become better - every 4.4 deliveries.
It is not a coincidence that Delhi has won 5 of these matches.
Dhawan has not only been remarkably consistent this season but also a regular scorer in the previous three editions of the IPL – scoring in excess of 450 and above an average of 35 in each of these years.
Dhawan had been in indifferent form of late in limited-overs’ cricket (ODIs and T20Is) scoring just 498 runs in 17 innings at an average of 31.12, with just one hundred and two fifties since 2019.
Dhawan’s return to prime form is a huge boost to India ahead of the World Cup which gets underway in a month’s time in England.
First Published: April 28, 2019, 7:46 PM IST