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Champions Trophy pressure adding to Dhawan's woes

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Shikhar_Dhawan_India_Sunrisers_Hyderabad_IPL_CricketShikhar Dhawan seems to be in fine touch, scoring a fair bit of runs. He is eighth in the list of top run getters, accumulating 235 runs in 7 innings at an average of 33.57. He is the second highest run getter for Sunrisers Hyderabad behind David Warner, and only behind Nitish Rana, Manish Pandey, Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir in the list of top Indian run scorers this season.

With the Champions Trophy falling soon after the IPL, this could well be the tournament to make a few final decisions on a few important yet unsolved spots in the Indian team. With one opening slot up for grabs, Shikhar Dhawan is looking to make his way back there and has found a backer in one of India’s best Test players. Very Very Special Laxman has added his name to the list of people backing Dhawan for the Champions Trophy opening slot.

“Shikhar has been batting really well from the first match. Unfortunately, he has not been able to convert that into a big score but in last match he did really well and got a very good half-century against Delhi. He’s batting well, he’s timing well, has made some technical changes in his batting and also looks in a great space as far as his mind is concerned,” said VVS Laxman.

“I feel that Shikhar should open along with Rohit Sharma. If you remember, he had a big role to play in the last Champions Trophy win as well. This combination of Dhawan and Rahul [sic] is always lethal and puts the bowlers under tremendous pressure,” he added.

Laxman pointed out that Dhawan has been very impressive with the way he is shaping up and contributing to the cause of the Sunrisers Hyderabad this season.

“So, I believe selectors will be watching him closely and I feel that, the kind of rhythm he is in, he’s giving a lot of confidence to a lot of people. We, as a franchise, are also very pleased with the way Shikhar has been contributing to the Sunrisers’ success so far,” added the former cricketer.

 

While Dhawan’s run scoring seems fine, his strike rate has seen a dip compared to previous seasons, especially in the powerplay. That is probably a little cause of concern, given Dhawan was known as an attacking batsman. As it stands, he now appears to be an inversion of himself: a batsman prefers a watchful start for the sake of scoring big.

KL Rahul is out injured, Rohit Sharma has been out of the setup for a while owing to his injury and isn’t looking in the greatest of form. He isn’t even opening for Mumbai Indians. Rishabh Pant is knocking on the door but is still some distance away from the ODI selection. What better chance could Shikhar Dhawan have to get back into the Indian side for the all important tournament? But with great chances come great pressure and that is what is probably biting Dhawan a bit.

One of the primary reasons for the dip in the strike rate and his restricted approach (rather than his usual instinctive, attacking play) is the added pressure of that spot that he wants to reclaim, I feel. 

While Warner has mostly carried him through, allowing him time to settle down (which Williamson has also done on one occasion) Dhawan has found it hard to progress when things haven’t gone well at the other end, prompting him to look for a few quick runs and losing his wicket in the process.

Apart from that special innings against Delhi, Dhawan has fallen prey to poor shot selection and has failed to score both big and quickly simultaneously. He has always had problems with his shot selection, but the pressure on him is further telling, given he is not expressing himself freely and is probably a cause of worry more for Sunrisers than India.

It is imperative for Dhawan to let his usual self come out on the pitch and let fly, for he needs to realize it was that side that earned him a place in the Indian side. India also need Dhawan to score quick, as his prospective opening partner Rohit Sharma is also the kind of player who needs time to get his eye in before he lets loose.

 

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