The Gabbar is back! And what an incredible comeback it has been for Shikhar Dhawan, the Gabbar of the Indian team. The 31-year-old true blue Delhi opener, who was only a late addition to the India Test squad for Sri Lanka, roared back in style with a Man of the Series performance in India's 3-0 clean sweep against Sri Lanka.
Dhawan, deriving his nickname from the famous Bollywood villain "Gabbar" from the movie 1975 classic "Sholay", smashed 358 runs in the three-Test series - including two big hundreds - and ended the series as the highest run-getter. He averaged an astounding 89.50 and had a strike-rate of 104.67.
However, Dhawan was absent from India's scheme of things not too long ago from the start of the Sri Lanka series. It was only due to an injury to regular opener Murali Vijay that Dhawan got an SOS from the team selectors.
And the aggressive southpaw responded to the SOS in his unique manner - by scoring a lot of runs. Dhawan hammered a brutal 190 - his highest in Tests - in the first Test at Galle and laid the foundation for India's mammoth 304-run win. He then continued his special liking for the Sri Lankan bowling attack and slammed 119 on day one of the third Test, again paving the way for India's victory by an innings and 171 runs.
Looking back at his performance in the series, Dhawan couldn't help but thank the almighty.
"Before this series, I was in Hong Kong enjoying the holiday," Dhawan said with a smile. "Unfortunately one of our openers was unfit and I got a chance to come over here and by the grace of God things went very well for me and got the Man of the Series award," he said.
Dhawan said he would like to continue in the same fashion and keep playing his natural game.
"I am enjoying my batting right now. I enjoy playing this way, this is my natural game (playing positive cricket)," he said.
Dhawan acknowledged that there's a tough competition for every slot in the Indian team and this is what will keep him motivated to perform at every given opportunity.
"I have to keep performing well because we have tough competition for all the slots, so that is a great sign for Indian cricket. It keeps me on my toes," he said.