Shikhar Dhawan’s scores in the recently concluded Bangladesh series read 30, 53, 75. Nothing extraordinary in those numbers but they are not unimpressive either, considering how India struggled for runs in the first two ODIs.
Dhawan, unlike his teammates, changed his approach a bit to get these scores against the Mashrafe Mortaza-led unit.
The Delhi dasher has become a lot watchful in the early phase of his innings, unlike his dominant days with the Men in Blue. Since 15th February this year, Dhawan’s average has soared to 51.81 from his career average of 42.75.
If his knock in the last ODI is broken into phases, it clearly suggests how he buys his time against the moving ball before going for his shots. The gentle pushes have replaced the flashy drives through covers and he is leaving the ball well.
In Mirpur on Sunday, Dhawan was happy to observe Rohit Sharma do bulk of the scoring as the aggressive southpaw managed 8 off the 15 balls he faced. Once Rohit got out, Dhawan switched into anchor role and stitched a crucial stand with Virat Kohli.
After surviving the new-ball phase and bit of spin, Dhawan accelerated. The strike-rate spiked to 94 and his fifty (53 to be precise) came off just 50 balls. Against the run of play, India lost Kohli when the partnership seemed set to enter aggressive mode.
Seeing a wicket fall at the other end, Dhawan slowed down a bit before throwing his wicket away for a 73-ball 75.
It’s very difficult for a batsman to curb his natural instinct of going after everything. Dhawan didn’t curb it overnight or over a couple of matches. The glimpses of the approach were seen during the World Cup, IPL and it finally entered the ‘ready’ phase in the ODI series.
Change in approach has done a world of good to the Delhi left-hander as can be seen from his improving numbers and consistent outings in the middle. With Dhawan going into a little shell early in his innings, Rohit gets a license to go after the bowling and set the early tempo.
How long it will work is something to be seen in the near future but the new-look Dhawan is injecting much-needed stability into the Indian top-order which is dominated by aggressive batsmen.