They say that we are the creators of our destinies. While some people believe blindfolded when it comes to destiny and fate, others often look forward to creating their own, like swag kings. One such personality is none other than Shikhar Dhawan. In 2010, when Shikhar Dhawan debuted in ODI cricket, he got dismissed for just a duck. However, the fun side to his tale is that the same cricketer who got out for a duck in his ODI debut smashed a fantastic 187 from just 174 balls. The fun side? Both the games had the same opponent, aka Australia.
If one has to look closely at Shikhar Dhawan between 2009-2013, his growth has been phenomenal. Someone’s loss is always someone else’s gain, and in his time in 2013, Gautam Gambhir’s loss led to him being a part of the team.
In 2013, Gautam Gambhir struggled with his form in International cricket big time, leading to his being dropped from the squad. But, like a true professional and athlete, Dhawan grabbed that opportunity with both hands and had a prolific start to his International career. From 2013 till about 2021-2022, an Indian cricket team would be considered incomplete, especially in limited-overs cricket, without Shikhar Dhawan. Both he and Rohit Sharma were the group’s ‘top order’ guns, and on a day when they got going, they could give any opponent a severe run for their money.
In the period between 2013-2022, Shikhar Dhawan, aka our very own ‘Gabbar’, has given cricket fans many moments of joy and happiness with his swashbuckling batting style. However, since the likes of Ishan Kishan, Shubman Gill, and others started to flourish in the top order, Dhawan has had to miss out on many occasions. So, suddenly, gone were those days when Shikhar Dhawan would be the team’s first opener choice.
What’s been unfortunate in his case is that despite not having struggled with form, he’s still had to miss out. Even though we all know that he is not getting any younger in terms of fitness and maintaining a healthy average, he’s still at par with today’s young guns. If we look closely at his stats and average even in IPL 2022 and 2023 (till the date of filing his article), it is one of the best in the tournament. To add to the nice part, who can forget his recent blistering innings against Sunrisers Hyderabad and that too in Hyderabad? At a time when his team Punjab Kings struggled to reach even 100 as they were nine wickets down, Shikhar Dhawan was the ‘lone warrior’ in that situation who helped his team get a respectable total of more than 140 runs. Even though his team didn’t end up on the winning side, it atleast ensured that his team didn’t struggle by a considerable margin if, by any chance, it boils down to the ‘net run rate’ scenario. What was even unfortunate was that despite not being out till the very end, Shikhar Dhawan scored 99* at the end of the innings. This means that be it a personal milestone or a team win, nothing worked out for him that day.
It’s a different scenario if you are struggling with form, so you miss out on the International team. In such cases, you can always get back to the nets or train under some mentor and get your basics sorted. However, in the ‘curious case’ of Shikhar Dhawan, he’s not necessary anymore for the Indian team despite being in form and doing things right. What’s sad is that his selection has happened based on the importance of a series or tournament.
In one ODI series, he’s suddenly made the team captain, and in the very next, there’s a high chance that he might not be in the squad and central 15. With someone of Shikhar’s stature who’s been an outstanding player for India in the recent past, such discrimination is disrespectful and perhaps insulting to an extent.
Yes, no player is above the team. On a given day, when a captain picks his playing XI, he selects the best team, thereby looking forward to winning the game. Nobody is saying that he has to be determined ahead of young blood. Of course, many factors, like team combination and the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, come into play. However, perhaps, he can get a bit of clarity in terms of how the BCCI looks forward to using him in International cricket until he calls it a day.
Not sure how many of you have noticed this, but I certainly have. Destiny has funny ways of repeating and giving people a taste of their medicine. When Gautam Gambhir lost his form and was dropped from the squad, he could never be a permanent member of the Indian cricket team again after that. He played in bits and pieces till he retired. At that time, Shikhar Dhawan replaced him as the ideal opener of Indian cricket.
Well, precisely ten years later, Shikhar Dhawan, who earlier lost his form, got dropped, and now that he’s scoring big runs in domestic and other forms of cricket, he still doesn’t find a place in the playing XI in International cricket. Today, Shubman Gill is in the same place where Shikhar found himself many years back. However, they say in cricket that it is not over till the last ball. So on that note, as ardent fans of India’s very own ‘Gabbar’, we too will hope that from somewhere, an opportunity will arise for him from where he can once again prove his mettle and make a roaring comeback to the Indian team.
Last but not least, we miss out on his iconic celebration after he takes a catch, don’t we? Come on, Shikhar. It’s not the end of the road yet. Hold your head high, be patient and let’s hope we get to see you more often in blue once again.