Natural talent

Shikhar Dhawan was in superb form in the matches against Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders.-VIVEK BENDRE

Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar chose Shikhar Dhawan as his opening partner for the matches against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, and the left-hander grabbed the chance with both hands. By G. Viswanath.

Shikhar Dhawan is a hit at the Cricket Club of India. The Club members and the spectators have been on the edge of their seats, watching his execution of proper cricketing shots. He has shown the confidence to rise above himself.

The DLF IPL-3 matches have helped him take the centrestage with splendid knocks against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings. His whirlwind half-century against Mahendra Singh Dhoni's team decisively swung the match in Mumbai Indians' favour.

The discerning, though, were not surprised by the youngster who shot into the limelight in the 2004 ICC Under-19 World Cup in Dhaka with a record aggregate of 505 runs.

Very soon Dhawan became a regular for Delhi in the national tournaments and has progressed playing alongside Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. However, the attention on Sehwag and Gambhir has pushed Dhawan to the background. In recent times even Virat Kohli has forced his way into the Indian team. The onus therefore, is entirely upon Dhawan to surpass himself to get the nod of the national selectors.

Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar chose Dhawan as his opening partner for the matches against Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, and the left-hander grabbed the chance with both hands. Lack of runs from Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasuriya forced Mumbai Indians to make the decisive change at the top and Dhawan pummelled bowlers like Shane Bond, Ishant Sharma, Albie Morkel and L. Balaji.

The smart and big blows from his bat helped Mumbai to 61 for the first wicket in 41 balls against KKR and 92 in 53 balls against CSK. Tendulkar gave his younger partner the leeway to play his shots against CSK, and Dhawan (56, 34b, 5x4, 3x6) responded with a flurry of fours and sixes which lessened the burden on the rest of the Mumbai Indians batsmen.

In doing so Dhawan won admiration from his captain who himself has been in super form in the league. “He's a terrific player and showed great commitment. I encouraged him to play his natural game. I had to change my role and decided to bat till the end,” Tendulkar told Sportstar.

A mainstay for Delhi Daredevils in the inaugural IPL, Dhawan held the No. 3 spot after Sehwag and Gambhir and scored runs aplenty with his natural belligerent style of batting. In the second season, played in South Africa, the franchise owners of the Daredevils and Mumbai Indians agreed to exchange Dhawan for Ashish Nehra.

Training and practising with Mumbai Indians, especially with Tendulkar around, and opening with the little master, is bound to help him hone his skills and temperament. There is no doubt about his talent; like Sehwag and Gambhir, his style is suited to all forms of the game.

He has played 47 first-class matches, scored 3148 runs with eight centuries and 15 half-centuries. He has also played 63 one-day matches with 2534 runs (seven centuries and 12 half-centuries) and has an excellent record in Twenty20 cricket too.