When the Indian cricket team lost the Ranchi ODI against Australia by 32 runs despite Virat Kohli’s sublime 41st century, there were questions raised about the Indian batting. The opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had failed to notch up a solid partnership ever since the start of the Australia series. Both batsmen were also becoming increasingly inconsistent. “No team wants to lose 4-5 wickets cheaply. We are not a team that loses wickets in a bunch regularly but it has happened thrice in the series and that is something we will look to correct in the next couple of games, we want partnerships that can get us going,” Kohli remarked after the defeat. Those words could have been directed at the openers with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 coming close.
Kohli’s words appeared to have done the trick. In the Mohali ODI, both Rohit and Dhawan stitched a 100-plus opening run stand. What would have pleased the Indian team was the return of Dhawan’s form. The left-hander had a pretty lean in limited-overs, managing scores of 28,13,6,29,30,5,14,0,21,1 in the ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand as well as in the first three ODIs in this series. However, at the PCA stadium, Dhawan showed his magic as he notched up his 28th fifty off just 44 balls to boost India.
The left-hander got going with a boundary to the deep backward square leg fence and he targeted Pat Cummins in the fifth over by slamming him for two boundaries. Dhawan continued to deal in boundaries and scored at a strike rate of over 100. The Delhi opener then went after Jason Behrendorff by hitting him for a couple of boundaries and he reached his 28th fifty in style by drilling Jhye Richardson down the ground to notch up an important milestone.
The fact that he broke the rut in Mohali and against Australia is poetic. On his Test debut in 2013 against the same opponents, Dhawan blasted the fastest century on debut off just 85 balls and smashed a brilliant 187 as India won the Test. From that knock in 2013 at the PCA stadium, Dhawan has not looked back and he has gone on to form an integral part of Virat Kohli’s side. A big score, just before the World Cup by the Indian openers, and in particular from Dhawan, will go a long way in easing off some worries for Virat Kohli and his side.