SHIKHAR DHAWAN has turned an ODI career that started with a two-ball duck against the Aussies at Vizag into one of the most prolific in history. On Saturday, he played his 100th match and celebrated it with a ton. Quietly and unassumingly, he’s outdone a slew of Indian batting superstars in terms of where their numbers stood after they’d played 100 ODIs. He’s also second in overall ODI history only behind Hashim Amla.
A century built on consistency: Shikhar Dhawan has 4309 runs at 46.33 with 13 centuries. Only Hashim Amla had scored more runs at the 100-ODI mark with 4808 runs at 53.42 with 16 centuries. Only Amla and David Warner, with 14, had more centuries than the Indian opener. Virat Kohli, second Indian on the list, had the same number of centuries as Dhawan but had scored 4107 runs at 48.89 in two fewer innings. Dhawan was incidentally ahead of Kohli at the 50-match mark too. He had 2048 runs at 44.52 with 6 centuries as compared to Kohli’s 1827 runs at 45.67 with 5 centuries.
Keeping up with Kohli: It’ll only get tougher for him, however, to keep in touch if not stay ahead of the Indian captain from hereon. Kohli after all set off on an unprecedented run-spree after reaching three-figures in terms of matches played, and it continues. In his second-set of 100 ODIs, Kohli scored 4781 runs at 62.09 with 18 centuries at a strike-rate of 96.89. Only AB de Villiers with 5018 runs at 66.02 with 17 centuries has managed more in that period. Tendulkar and Ganguly are the only other Indians to score over 4000 runs between their 100th and 200th matches but they pale in comparison to Kohli’s ascent. Dhawan was the fastest Indian to 2000 and 3000 runs but couldn’t beat Kohli to the 4000-run mark. He’ll have to score the 791 runs he needs to reach 5000 within the next 14 innings to be quicker than Kohli to that milestone.
Best against the best: For someone who’s often pulled up for his deficiencies in conditions that assist pace bowling, Dhawan is right on top among the most prolific Indian batsmen in ODIs played around Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand. He averages 51.78 in 42 matches, only second to Kohli’s 57.66 in 64 matches. Only Tendulkar (9 centuries in 132 innings), Kohli (8 in 62 innings) and Ganguly (8 in 80 innings) have more centuries in those countries. Dhawan’s 7 tons have come in just 41 innings—which means he scores a hundred in every sixth innings in the most challenging conditions in world cricket from an Indian perspective. His more high-profile opening partner Rohit Sharma has played 17 more innings than Dhawan but has managed only 102 more runs in those.
Taming the Proteas: Dhawan kind of completed a holy trinity at Johannesburg on Pink Day by scoring his first century against South Africa in South Africa. He’d scored a ton against them in England and Australia previously. In 10 matches away from home, including neutral venues, Dhawan has 612 runs at 76.50 with a strike-rate of 103.55. Though Kohli’s average is marginally better, the Delhi left-hander in his short career has already become the Proteas’ deadliest Indian nemesis. It’s quite a feat considering very few Indians have stood up to the South Africans in ODIs home or away. Dhawan, Kohli and Ganguly are the only ones to average over 50 while most of the other celebrated Indian batsmen never quite got going. South Africa were the only team that Tendulkar (35.73) averaged less than 40 against. Dravid averaged 39.66 against them while the averages for Sehwag, Sharma, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni languish in the late 20s or early 30s.
Deceptively destructive: Despite his free-flowing style, not many count Dhawan as someone who can take a bowling attack apart. But among openers, his strike-rate of 93.47 puts him just behind Quinton de Kock, Adam Gilchrist, Shahid Afridi, Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy and Sehwag — ODI cricket’s own version of the Avengers. And yet Dhawan stands out in that list with his average of 46.33.