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  5. Unfortunate Shikhar Dhawan falls short of first ton since 2019 World Cup but does enough to silence critics

Unfortunate Shikhar Dhawan falls short of first ton since 2019 World Cup but does enough to silence critics

Dhawan shrugged off the pressure in style as he notched up a well-constructed knock of 98 runs, painfully falling two runs short of his18th ODI century on Tuesday at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. 

India TV Sports Desk Written by: India TV Sports Desk
New Delhi Published on: March 23, 2021 17:05 IST
Shikhar Dhawan
Image Source : GETTY

Shikhar Dhawan

Pressure was firmly on Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan who headed into the ODI series on the back of one appearance in T20Is against England after which he was benched. But the left-handed shrugged off the pressure in style as he notched up a well-constructed knock of 98 runs, painfully falling two runs short of his18th ODI century on Tuesday at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune. 

Dhawan, over the course of his career, has become synonymous with India's white-ball format. In his 11-year-long career, he has appeared in 139 ODIs and 65 T20Is, scoring 5808 and 1673 runs at 45.02 and 27.88 respectively. But the 35-year-old was picked as India's opener for the T20I series opener, alongside KL Rahul, by virtue of Rohit Sharma being injured, a day after captain Virat Kohli confirmed Rahul and Rohit as a first-choice opening combination in the T20I format. Dhawan failed to make the most of that opportunity, pulling just four runs off 12 balls, and was dropped hence with India going with young Ishan Kishan, another left-handed option. 

Further pressure piled on the veteran cricketer after the management called another youngster, Shubman Gill, for the ODI series against England, while there are two more options in the fray, Devdutt Padikkal and Prithvi Shaw, who have been impressive in the 2021 Vijay Hazare Trophy but were not considered for selection. 

With age not by his side, the ODI series stood as Dhawan's final opportunity to pull things back on track after the captain backed him for the opener's slot. And Dhawan paid back with a brilliant and well-composed 98 off 106, laced with 11 boundaries and two sixes. 

Dhawan took off patiently against the English pace attack, cautiously combining with Rohit as the pair scored 64 off 91 balls and then later accelerated India's innings through the third powerplay with a couple of boundaries while managing a 105-run stand alongside captain Kohli, who also scored his 61st ODI half-century.

He eventually departed executing a well-timed pull short off Ben Stokes, which was taken by Eoin Morgan at midwicket, hence missing out on his 18th ton in the format and first since the 2019 World Cup, where he had scored against Australia before being ruled out of the tournament with a thumb injury.