Cardiff, UK: Shikhar Dhawan's maiden ODI century has got the wise men of cricket talking. India's 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev says in his inimitable style: "Shikhar Dhawan da jawab nahi" (Shikhar Dhawan is just unmatchable). (The man himself says, 'I am naturally courageous')
Kapil is part of the Hindi commentary team for host broadcasters, STAR TV. In an informal chat with this correspondent, the former all-rounder summed up Dhawan's 114 against South Africa in the ICC Champions Trophy opener here on Thursday in just one word, "fabulous". (Stats: India maintain unbeaten run)
Man of the Match Dhawan's century was the centerpiece of India's 331 for seven and played a decisive role in the 26-run win at SWALEC Stadium. He is the fifth Indian player after Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Mohammad Kaif to post a hundred in the Champions Trophy.
Dhawan is the second Indian batsman after Ganguly (141 not out at Nairobi on October 13, 2000) to post a hundred against South Africa in the Champions Trophy. But Kapil says it is no point looking in the pages of history. (Also read: India beat South Africa by 26 runs)
"Shikhar is the future of Indian cricket and how well he handled the situation. It's time to move ahead (with new players)," Kapil said, adding the move to open the innings with Rohit Sharma was also a good decision. (AB de Villiers blames unforced errors and miscommunication)
"Look you can always ask why did you drop Murali Vijay? Cricket is like that. If the move clicks, then it's a masterstroke, otherwise it's a wrong one. I personally feel, to make Rohit open the innings with Shikhar was all right," said Kapil. (Match in images: Photo gallery)
Sharma and Dhawan were involved in a stand of 127 -- India's first century stand for the opening wicket against South Africa in the Champions Trophy. It was their third overall for this wicket-position in this competition -- the first two being 192 between Sehwag and Ganguly against England at Colombo's Premadasa Stadium on September 22, 2002 and 141 between Tendulkar and Ganguly against New Zealand at Nairobi Gymkhana on October 15, 2000.
Kapil feels records are for the books only. "This is transition time for Indian cricket and we should count on the current crop of players available. As commentators we have not even discussed a Sachin, a Sehwag, a Ganguly or a Gambhir," he said.
"At least I am not missing any one of them and neither is the crowd here. No one cares for who is not playing. People are talking about Shikhar Dhawan and not Tendulkar or Sehwag and herein lay a clear message for Indian cricket," Kapil said.
Kapil remains a popular figure among Indian fans, who turned up in large numbers at the Swalec Stadium here on Thursday. Even at 54, Kapil Dev da jawab nahi.