IPL 2020: Shikhar Dhawan's Remarkable Transformation – From Accumulator To Aggressor
Shikhar Dhawan slammed the first T20 hundred of his career – domestic or international – as his magnificent unbeaten 101 off just 58 deliveries helped DC chase down CSK’s 179 in Sharjah in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020
- Nikhil Narain
- Updated: October 18, 2020, 5:12 PM IST
Shikhar Dhawan slammed the first T20 hundred of his career – domestic or international – as his magnificent unbeaten 101 off just 58 deliveries helped DC chase down CSK’s 179 in Sharjah in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. The left-hander scored almost 55% of his team’s runs and looked in imperious touch smashing 14 fours and one six during his match-winning innings.
This is the new Dhawan! The Dhawan who shows initiative, who takes calculated risks, who shows intent and who is not scared to take on the bowlers. This new avatar of Dhawan has seen him produce three significant performances for the Capitals in the last three matches. And is a far cry from the accumulator/anchor who looked confused and was playing within himself in the first half of the tournament.
26 in 16 deliveries against KKR, 34 in 31 deliveries in a 162-run chase against SRH (DC fell short by 15 runs), 35 off 27 deliveries against CSK, a duck against KXIP, 32 off 28 against RCB and 5 off 4 against the Royals – Dhawan was playing in the shadow of the more flamboyant Prithvi Shaw in the first 6 matches of the tournament. He aggregated a total of 132 runs off 108 deliveries at a strike rate of 122.22. He was getting starts but not converting them into a significant score. Also, he was not looking to press the accelerator and up and ante in the powerplay.
But something changed against the Mumbai Indians.
Maybe it was the early dismissal of Shaw that motivated Dhawan to get the aggressor in him out on display. Shaw had exited cheaply against SRH too but another strokeplayer has replaced him at number 3 – the DC skipper, Shreyas Iyer. However, there was a change in batting positions against the Mumbai Indians and the more circumspect and classical, Ajinkya Rahane came in at number 3. This could have been the trigger for Dhawan – to take the onus upon himself to provide the impetus at the top of the order. He top-scored for DC with an unbeaten 69 off just 52 deliveries – including 6 fours and a six. Although DC lost the match, Dhawan 2.0 had announced himself in IPL 2020.
The match against the Royals in Dubai followed a similar pattern. DC lost the wicket of Shaw off the first ball of the match. Dhawan attacked the bowling and once again top-scored for his team with 57 off just 33 deliveries – a knock that included 6 fours and 2 sixes. DC posted 161 for 7 and restricted RR to 148 for 8.
Dhawan had now adorned the new role for the Capitals and gave his best performance of the tournament (and T20 career), with a maiden match-winning hundred against CSK.
The Indian southpaw has aggregated 227 runs in the last three matches at a strike rate of 158.74. Courtesy his performances in these matches, he is now the highest run-getter for DC this season – Dhawan has an aggregate of 359 runs in 9 matches at a strike rate of 143.02.
There is an uncanny resemblance to the pattern in Dhawan’s approach in IPL 2020 to IPL 2019. Dhawan did not have a great start in the previous edition too 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 DC 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. He aggregated 299 runs at a strike rate of 151.01 in the six matches in the latter half of Delhi’s campaign. He scored at a rate of in excess of 135 in 5 of these 6 innings. It was not a coincidence then that his team won 5 of these matches.
The question then is that why does Dhawan not start as the aggressor and only transform mid-way into the tournament?
Maybe he needs to settle in, feel his way and play the role of the accumulator in order to later get the stroke-player inside him charged and motivated. Maybe he has his own triggers.
Whatever the reason might be, Dhawan’s transformation has come just at the right time for the Capitals as we head into the business end of the tournament.
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