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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: CSK vs DC: Player of the Day - Dhawan and a run-chase masterclass

Shikhar Dhawan's knock sealed a comprehensive win for the Delhi Capitals.

Shikhar Dhawan began IPL 2021 with his 42nd half-century in the competition. [Credits: FPJ]
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Shikhar Dhawan began IPL 2021 with his 42nd half-century in the competition. [Credits: FPJ]

By

Anjishnu Roy

Updated: 2021-04-11T00:32:30+05:30

All the attention was on young Rishabh Pant who was captaining in his very first IPL match. His opponent in the match? His mentor, his senior, his role model, and the old guard of Indian cricket, MS Dhoni.

By the time the game ended, it was the protégé who had come out on top by hitting the winning runs with Dhoni watching from behind the wicket.

The last laugh may have belonged to Pant, but the night belonged to his swashbuckling opening teammate Shikhar Dhawan.

Facing Deepak Chahar in his very first ball of IPL 2021, the left-handed batsman made his intentions clear with a boundary. He wasn't going to be second fiddle anymore.

Sam Curran came rushing in with a full-length delivery and he was greeted with a straight drive that found its way to the boundary ropes.

In Curran's very next over, Dhawan stepped it up a notch and dealt with what was almost a similar ball with much prejudice. His backhand took over and he lifted the ball calmly, directing it to the stands for his first six of the night while holding the stance and finishing off as a purist would.

The barrage of runs continued as Dhawan continued to find non-existent gaps in the field, threading the ball through fielders almost like a thread through a needle, be it on the legside or the off-side.

An opening partnership to cherish for Delhi

However, Shikhar wasn't the only one doing the talking. Prithvi Shaw, fresh from his exploits in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and on a mission to prove his detractors wrong also began taking the bowlers to the cleaners.

The two played it safe when required, found the boundaries when the run rate kept ticking up, and continued to rotate the strike, almost looking like in sync. In some moments, Dhawan was the aggressor while Prithvi held the fort. On other occasions, Prithvi unleashed the big shots, while Dhawan became the anchor.

The 35-year-old played a lot of glorious shots over the course of the match. However, the one that got all the commentators talking and Shardul Thakur, the bowler, sarcastically laughing at the disbelief of it all came in the fifth over of the game.

Sensing Shardul would vary his line, Dhawan waltzed towards his left. He waited for Thakur's delivery to arrive and when it finally did, it was a straight-forward wide ball. Seeking an opportunity, Dhawan opened the face of his blade at the very last moment. The ball, lofted in the air, was punched with just the right precision and power to beat a lunging Sam Curran.

Shikhar greeted the spinners by dancing down the track whenever he saw fit and with no regard for respect to the opposition at all.

The 42nd half-century arrives

It took him all of 35 deliveries to get to his 42nd IPL half-century, the second-most in the league after David Warner. Not even Kohli or Rohit or Raina have accumulated as many half-centuries in the Indian Premier League as Dhawan has.

With the half-century achieved, and Delhi Capitals now in a comfortable position thanks to the 100-run opening partnership, both Dhawan and Shaw decided to put their foot on the gas. The cover drives were out for show and so were the sweep shots.

Even as Prithvi Shaw got dismissed in the 14th over, Shikhar carried on the onslaught. He read the bowlers' minds with great detail and anticipating their lines beforehand, continued to move wide of his crease.

Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo, and Deepak Chahar continued to make the same mistake by trying to bowl wide of off-stump and Dhawan persisted with the same treatment of finding gaps through cover drives or beating the fielders in the ring with a lifted sweep.

Shardul Thakur finally found a breakthrough after what was a very long and arduous period for the CSK bowlers. He nailed the toe-crushing yorker to perfection and Dhawan, trying to play it across the line, completely missed the delivery.

When Shikhar had begun his innings, Delhi Capitals needed over 9.4 runs an over. By the time he was done, the equation was down to requiring 22 off 22. He might not have stuck around until the end, but Dhawan set the finish up on a plate for the likes of Stoinis and Pant to accomplish, which they did with aplomb.

Beware, opposition bowlers, Gabbar has arrived!

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