Shikhar Dhawan struggling to find top gear as India's powerplay woes continue
Shikhar Dhawan scored 42-ball 41 in the 1st T20I against Bangladesh. (AP Photo)
- Focus on Dhawan as India opener has been struggling to switch gears
- Dhawan's strike rate in T20Is in 2019 a cause of concern
- India's inability to set and defend totals was exposed in Delhi
India's inability to set and defend totals was once again exposed in the 1st T20I of the ongoing 3-match series against Bangladesh in Delhi. A month after losing a T20I to South Africa after batting first, India struggled to get going against Bangladesh after they were sent in to bat by visiting skipper, Mahmudullah.
India lost Rohit Sharma early at the Arun Jaitley Stadium after which Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul joined hands for the 2nd wicket. The duo added 26 runs to make sure there were no more hiccups in the powerplay.
However, the pace at which they scored when the fielding restrictions were on, it is safe to say, cost India the 1st T20I on Sunday.
KL Rahul needed 17 balls for his 15 while Shikhar Dhawan top-scored with 41 but scored at less than run-a-ball. While it may seem that the two batsmen, who recently lost their Test spots, are being over cautious while trying to save their spots in the playing XI, the problem with Dhawan seems to be a bit more worrying.
Shikhar Dhawan broke into the scene as an explosive opener across all formats of the game. His ability to shift gears still make him one of the most lethal openers going around. However, his numbers in the recent past in T20I cricket is a cause of concern for India's T20I side.
Ever since the start of the home season which also marks the start of India's preparation for T20 World Cup in 2020, the narrative has been getting the combination right. Both Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have identified that India is not up to the mark when it comes to setting targets in the shortest format of the game.
One of the main reasons for India's struggles when they bat first is their inability to make the most of the powerplay. Since the last T20 World Cup in 2016, India's run rate in the powerplay has been a little over than 8 runs per over, which puts them behind some of the well-oiled T20I teams, including England and Australia.
Shikhar Dhawan's strike rate in T20I cricket tells us an interesting story. Over the years, the left-hander has scored at 128.67 and his inability to switch gears has been a cause of concern.
In 2019, Dhawan's form in T20I cricket has been ordinary. Dhawan has managed just 222 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of just 109.35. He is yet to score a 50-plus score in the ongoing year in T20Is.
With lack of domestic cricket action, Dhawan has often struggled for consistency. In Bengaluru against Australia, Dhawan made 14 off 24 balls and India ended up losing the match despite posting 190. In Delhi, Dhawan was back in the team after a month's gap and the rustiness was evident as he struggled to accelerate during the powerplay.
Speaking to Sports Tak, batting great Sunil Gavaskar had pointed out Dhawan's inability to get going straight away after a short period away from the game.
"Questions will be raised on Shikhar Dhawan if he doesn't bat well in the next 2 matches. The team is not going to benefit if you're scoring 40-45 runs from the same number of balls. He will have to think about this. When players come back after the gap, it does take a lot of time to get back the rhythm," explained Gavaskar.
With the likes of Sanju Samson, KL Rahul among others waiting in the wings, Shikhar Dhawan is under considerable pressure to up the ante. All eyes will be on him in Rajkot and the rest the home season.