Shikhar Dhawan struck form but missed a well-deserved century by six runs against Sri Lanka, here on Friday. When all set for his sixth ODI century, the talented opener was bowled by Lankan mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis for a well-made 94. Mendis castled the left-hander with a ball that was short in length and hurried off the track. Dhawan slammed seven fours and a six in his 114-ball innings. This was the second time in a fortnight that Dhawan has missed an international century. He scored 98 in the first innings of the Wellington Test. (Match Scorecard | Blog)
The 28-year-old batsman - who has been unable to register big knocks in the recent past, spearheaded India's challenge in the Asia Cup match after Sri Lanka won the toss and decided to field. Dhawan lost fellow opener Rohit Sharma (13) early but ensured that the opposition did not seize advantage. Batting in tandem with skipper Virat Kohli (48), Dhawan played a balanced knock - one that combined aggression with sensible nudges for ones and twos.
Dhawan's fifty took him just 68 deliveries and had five boundaries in it. His next fifty was equally measured as he targeted all parts of the ground to keep the score moving. Although he did lose the company of an in-form Kohli, the setback hardly affected his rhythm. Dhawan, like most left-handers, was brilliant with his drives which were timed to perfection on a batting deck.
Reaching the three-figure mark will come as a respite for Dhawan as it would for Indian cricket fans. A wobbly top-order had begun putting additional pressure on Kohli at No. 3. Dhawan in particular had got starts but had failed to convert them into big scores. His recent knocks (12, 0, 32, 12, 28, 9, 28) hinted at the enormous talent he possesses but also revealed that he also had the tendency to lose concentration.