Rishi Dhawan - leading Himachal from the front

Thanks to the captain’s contributions, Himachal has closed in on a quarterfinal spot in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Rishi Dhawan starred with bat and ball to help Himachal defeat Delhi by two runs in its last match.   -  PTI (File Photo)

Rishi Dhawan, popular as ‘RD’ among his peers, has dazzled over the years because of his consistent performance in domestic cricket. Dhawan, a pace bowling all-rounder who has single-handedly won and saved matches for his state on many occasions, has been one of the biggest servants of Himachal Pradesh cricket for a decade now.

Himachal salvaged draws from hopeless situations in Ranji Trophy matches against Hyderabad in Guwahati in 2016 and against Bengal at the Eden Gardens last year; they were two of the many bright instances where Dhawan shouldered the responsibility to do the unthinkable.

Whether he captains the side or not, Dhawan always leads it with his spirited showing. “Dhawan is a hard-working cricketer and a team man. He always remains involved in the game and delivers under pressure,” says former Himachal coach and India Under-19 fielding coach Abhay Sharma.

All-round effort

Dhawan's fine all-round showing that enabled Himachal to upset Delhi by two runs in a Group B Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament at Amtar was another example of how indispensable the 27-year-old was for his team. Even though captain Prashant Chopra's 150 propelled Himachal to gather a 300-plus total, it was Dhawan who chipped in with important contributions to divert the course of the match towards the host.

Dhawan, who has donned India colours in only three ODIs and one T20I, scored an unbeaten 21-ball 29 in the death overs, emerged as the most successful and economical bowler (with figures of three for 38) of the match. He also took the crucial catch of Pradeep Sangwan and ran out Ishant Sharma in the final over to spoil Delhi's plans the other day.

Win away from Q/F berth

Himachal's victory, which pushed its tally to 14 points, kept it in contention for a quarterfinal berth. If Himachal wins its last group match against Bengal at the HPCA Stadium here on Saturday, it will go through to the knock-out stage at the expense of Delhi, which has 16 points from six engagements.

Last year's runner-up Bengal, which is already out of the race for quarterfinals, will seek to regain some pride and confidence.

The contest involving Maharashtra and Kerala at Bilaspur is a virtual pre-quarterfinal. Since both sides have 14 points apiece, the winner of the match will advance to the last eight.

Saturday’s Group B matches
  • At Dharamsala: Himachal Pradesh vs Bengal
  • At Amtar: Uttar Pradesh vs Tripura
  • At Bilaspur: Maharashtra vs Kerala.