The Indian Premier League (IPL) was a perfect platform for the under-performing opening batsman to regain his touch. But that has not happened. In the three games he has played, the Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman has failed to reach double figures.
The ultimate blow came in the last match against Mumbai Indians when he failed to handle the yorkers from Kiwi pacer Tim Southee. Once he even fell over, failing to negotiate the swing.
The performance has drawn criticism from India batting great Sunil Gavaskar. The former India skipper blamed Dhawan’s slow footwork for his problems, even suggesting that the batsman try skipping to sharpen his reflexes.
In the World T20, the opener had a tally of 43 runs in four matches. With scores of 8, 6 and 2 in the IPL, he would be happy to take any advice he gets.
On Wednesday, at the nets on the eve of his side’s clash against Gujarat Lions, Dhawan spent some time talking to team mentor VVS Laxman.
The former India batsman backed the opener. “Shikhar is an excellent player. He has shown in the past that he is a match winner. Whenever he plays well, the team is invariably in a good position to win. We are hoping for him to do well,” Laxman said.
So far in this edition, openers have anchored the innings and contributed the most towards successful chases. “In the T20 format, the openers or the top three play a huge role. If they lay a good foundation, teams can be in a good position to either post a big total or win,” Laxman said.
Dhawan’s struggles have made the team even more dependent on fellow opener and skipper David Warner. The Aussie has so far played a leading role so far with scores of 58 and a match-winning 90 not out.
Warner had replaced Dhawan as skipper during the last season. Dhawan’s performances in the tournament could have a direct impact on his place in the national side. The pressure is on the 30-year-old to reverse the slide. The good batting pitch at Rajkot should encourage Dhawan to turn things around.