It is time for the last fixture of the league stage in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Punjab Kings (PBKS) will take the field against each other at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai in 'Match 70'. Although there is not much to gain for the teams as far as progression in the tournament is concerned, they will be fighting hard to leave the field with their heads held high.
Talking about PBKS, they have experienced a roller coaster ride in the tournament. They have been brilliant in some of the matches, while they have been below par in some. But one man has risen above the team for PBKS and has been consistent with the bat in hand. Shikhar Dhawan has given Punjab solid starts in most of the matches.
Dhawan's consistency in IPL 2022 should make the selectors think about giving him a re-run in the national colors. He has been slowly disappearing from the mainframe of Indian cricket, but with his performances this IPL season, he has put forward a solid claim for his return to the team. The 2022 T20 World Cup is just months away, and India will need all the experience they can muster on their road to redemption.
Let us take a look at Dhawan's performances in IPL 2022:
Dhawan in IPL 2022: Shikhar has played 13 matches in the tournament and has been the most consistent run-scorer for PBKS.
Runs Per Innings: 32.38
Strike Rate: 122.74
Ball Per Boundary: 6.23
Dhawan has a very impressive record in the tournament. The left-handed batter scores a boundary almost every over. His stats speak volumes about his consistency. But is it enough to book a ticket for him on the flight to Australia?
The Australian pitches will demand the best of the pace negotiation skills of the batters. First, let us look at Shikhar Dhawan's performances in Australia:
Before going further into explanation, we will look at his performance in T20 World Cups:
His record in T20 matches down under is more than impressive. He has scored 271 runs in 8 innings at an RPI of 33.875 and strike rate of 153.9. But his records in the T20 World Cups are concerning. He has played seven innings in the two tournaments he has been a part of. In them, he has just scored 74 runs at a strike rate of 83.14, which is below par for the game's shortest format. But one thing that has to be kept in mind is that these records are five years old, and hence they don't give you an idea of the player's current form.
There is a myth about Shikhar Dhawan doing great in ICC events. So let us look at his performances in the ICC events after the 2016 T20 World Cup.
Dhawan in ICC Champions Trophy 2017:
Innings: 5 Runs: 338 BF: 332 SR: 101.80 Average: 67.60
Dhawan in 50-overs World Cup 2019:
Innings: 2 Runs: 125 BF: 121 SR: 103.30 Average: 62.50
The records show that Shikhar Dhawan performs well in the big tournaments. We have considered the events after the 2016 T20 World Cup, as Dhawan's performance in that particular tournament was not so impressive. But as we see, he has been good in ICC events after the T20 World Cup edition.
Given his performance on the big stage and his experience, he can be an essential member of India's T20 WC squad. But, as mentioned earlier, how a batter plays against pace must be taken into account to decide whether a player can go to Australia. So, let us look at Shikar Dhawan's performance against Pace and Spin bowling in the latest edition of IPL.
Vs Pace: SR (10 balls)- 12.77 BPB- 5.51
Vs Spin: SR (10 balls)-10.71 BPB- 10.5
If we compare his stats against Pace and Spin, Dhawan's records against the pacer are much better than against spinners. He scores at a better rate, finds boundaries more frequently, and takes more deliveries to be dismissed against pacers.
Conclusion: So, taking everything into account Shikhar Dhawan looks like a very good option for the team travelling to Australia to participate in the T20 World Cup. However, speaking of his recent form, including him in the World Cup squad only based on his performance in IPL will be a big demand. Hence, the selectors need to give him some game time in the international arena and see how he does in those matches.
The article is written before the announcement of India's squad for the South Africa series. But as per reports, it is Dhawan who will be leading a new-look Indian team in the series against South Africa. Reportedly, the selectors might look for a two-squad approach, with one group touring England and another team playing the T20I series against South Africa and Ireland.
Choosing Dhawan as the skipper of the team will be an exciting option. This allows Dhawan to strengthen his claims for the World Cup T20, 2022, and his experience will be valuable in grooming players like Tilak Varma and Umran Malik (who will reportedly be playing the South Africa series).
All said and done. Dhawan's performances on Australian soil, his ability to play pace bowling, his current form, and his affinity for scoring runs in ICC tournaments make him a strong contender for a place in the World Cup squad.