Shikhar Dhawan's brilliant 97* helped Delhi Capitals surge to fourth in the points table with a brilliant win against Kolkata Knight Riders. (Image credit: Twitter)
Shikhar Dhawan had been in great form in Twenty20s since the last couple of years. In 2018, he ended the year as the leading run-getter in Twenty20 Internationals with a record 689 runs at an average of 40 and a strike rate of 147, beating Virat Kohli’s record to become the highest run-getter in a single season in Twenty20 Internationals. In IPL 2019, his knock of 97* became the highest individual score in this format and it helped Delhi Capitals register a brilliant seven-wicket win against a dominant Kolkata Knight Riders side at the Eden Gardens. Following his knock, former India skipper Sourav Ganguly termed him as the ‘best opening batsman in the world’ and said Delhi Capitals were lucky to get him.
“Probably he's one of the best opening batsmen in the world. We were desperate for Shikhar Dhawan when we heard that he's going to leave Sunrisers Hyderabad. Good that he is coming off. It is an important phase of the tournament. It's good to see Shikhar get a good score with the tournament entering the second phase. It was more like a Shikhar Dhawan innings once he gets set, he takes the game away. He is a class act. He plays exactly the same way when he plays for India. He's been scoring consistently in the shorter format in International cricket," Ganguly said.
Dhawan had left Sunrisers Hyderabad before the start of the 2019 Indian Premier League after a successful association with the franchise for close to three years. Ganguly believed that hundreds were not possible on a frequent basis in Twenty20s and that it was important for the side to win on a regular basis. Ganguly also heaped praise on the maturity of Rishabh Pant, who was promoted to No.4 in the batting and shared a 105-run stand with Dhawan to help the side to victory.
“Rishabh played according to the situation, we pushed him up to four, to give him more opportunity to bat. He is a great talent. He is only going to get better along with Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer,” Ganguly said.
With the World Cup team selection on April 15, all eyes will be on how the composition of the team will be ahead of the tournament which will begin on May 30. Ganguly believes Dhawan will be the key player at the top of the order for Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team. “World Cup is a different format but Shikhar plays very well in England. He is a fantastic one-day cricketer. He will do well in the World Cup. He was the batsman of the series in the Champions Trophy," Ganguly said.
Ganguly, though, praised the effort of the bowlers in restricting Kolkata Knight Riders and said this was the key factor in their win. “The best part of the game was how we bowled in the match. When we took Ishant Sharma, many said that he is a Test bowler, but he has been the best bowler for the last six-odd matches. We bowled exceptionally well to restrict KKR to 178 for seven, it was actually a 200-run pitch. We chased it down easily. It's always great winning here,” Ganguly said.