Shikhar Dhawan may have finished second in the race for the orange cap, but no one has left an impression on the IPL with the bat the way he has. He finished the tournament with 618 runs, an average of 44.14 and strike rate of 144.73. He also became the first batsman to score back-to-back centuries in the IPL. He scored four fifties as well. If Delhi Capitals reached the final of the world’s most glamorous cricket league for the first time, a lot of the credit goes to the aggressive left-hander at the top of the order. He scored 78 off 50 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad in the qualifier to help Delhi steal a place in the final.
When he got going, runs flowed freely for Delhi. Unlike a team like Mumbai Indians, for which the batsmen performed together as a unit, the responsibility of taking Delhi to a decent total often was on Dhawan’s shoulders. Captain Shreyas Iyer was the only other batsman to show consistency. Delhi’s excellent show in the IPL owes a great deal to its sharp attack featuring Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and R. Ashwin, but without Dhawan’s stellar performance with the bat, they may not have got enough runs to bowl with.
It had taken Dhawan some time to find his form, though. He, in fact, had a horrendous start to the tournament as he was run out without scoring against Kings XI Punjab. He followed it up with scores of 35 (against Chennai Super Kings), 34 (Hyderabad), 26 (Kolkata Knight Riders), 32 (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and five (Rajasthan Royals). He seemed a different batsman after scoring his first fifty — 69 against Mumbai Indians. In the next match, he hit 57 against Rajasthan. Then came those two superb hundreds — 101 not off 58 balls against Chennai and 106 not out (61 balls) against Punjab.
Watching Dhawan making those centuries was a treat. He is a delightful stroke-maker, and when he finds form, which he often did these past eight weeks, he is difficult to contain. This edition also saw him becoming only the fifth batsman to complete 5,000 runs in the IPL.