I have been an ardent fan of cricket for the past 13 years. Initially, I knew only a few players from cricket like Sehwag and Sachin. I started learning about cricket in the 2007 World Cup. I never had a specific favourite player for a while then. I remember mentioning Gautam Gambhir as a favourite player amongst my classmates in 2009 though I had little to no interest in him. I liked MS Dhoni but he wasn’t my favourite cricketer. My favourite IPL team back then was Deccan Chargers which I liked due to Gilchrist. They used to be a weak team with more local talents and a few recognisable players. The whole following and backing the underdogs was another reason I supported them. I had noticed Shikhar Dhawan at Delhi Daredevils in 2008 IPL. Along with Sehwag and Gambhir, he used to play some amazing knocks for the Delhi who as a trio helped the team reach the semis in the first season.
Shikhar Dhawan was one of the players who played for initial Deccan Chargers team. He played for the Hyderabad franchise from 2011–2018. He had a different way of aggression. Usually, the aggressive players hit big sixes across the ground. But, Shikhar Dhawan was an aggressive player who mostly hit fours yet had an attacking approach. I liked his approach and started following him. He became my favourite cricketer. There have been many instances where I prayed for Dhawan to make runs irrespective of whether India wins the game or not.
The year 2013, the most successful year for Shikhar Dhawan in his cricket career. The test debut against Australia in 2013 at Dharamsala still remains a fresh memory for me. He continued his aggressive approach and hit an 87 ball 100 in the debut. Many proclaimed him to be the next Sehwag. Though he missed a double century by 13 runs, that will forever be one of the best debuts in tests by an Indian batsman. In the same year, he won the golden bat for scoring most runs in the champions trophy. 2013 is truly the best year to be a Dhawan fan.
In the following years, Dhawan along with Rohit at the top played numerous match-winning knocks. I honestly believe Dhawan is underrated in the limited-overs format and is overshadowed by the performances of Kohli and Rohit. While many may remind of the fact that 2020 will be the first year since 2008 for Kohli to miss out a century. Dhawan holds a similar record who has hit at least a century in the past 7 years. His contributions are overlooked as he lacks the brand value that Rohit and Kohli bring in. Dhawan hardly cared about those who continued playing brilliant innings year after year.
The year 2017, Dhawan had a slight downfall due to injuries and was searching for the form. Champions Trophy team was selected and Dhawan’s inclusion stormed huge criticism at the selection committee. But many didn’t know Dhawan and ICC tournaments are a match made in heaven. For the second consecutive time, Dhawan won the golden bat and thus made sure he’s the man of ICC tournaments. There was a similar situation this year at IPL. Yet again, Dhawan made the critics by scoring 618 runs in 17 games including 2 consecutive centuries(only player ever in the history of IPL to do so).
More than records, Dhawan is an amazing human being whom I have never seen angry on the field. A slight grin has been his answer for everything, be it when he scores a century nor a duck. Years may have passed, yet the questions on him have not stopped. Dhawan looked weak against Oz attack in the first T20I and in the 3rd ODI which I agree as well. Though there are signs that he might have reached his saturation point. I truly believe he finds his form back soon and plays up until the 2023 World Cup. Form out or not, Shikhar Dhawan shall always be my favourite player.
Happy Birthday, Shikhar Dhawan!