Former India cricketer Sunil Gavaskar believes that healthy competition in India's top-order is helping the team win consistently. He reserves his best praise though for Shikhar Dhawan, calling him 'find of the year'.
Dhawan - one of the three overall highest ODI scorers this year with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli - hit 119 off just 95 deliveries to help India seal series against West Indies on Wednesday. "Shikhar Dhawan is definitely the find of the year for India because he has hit five ODI centuries. And these centuries have come against tough opponents in big matches. He is definitely in prime form," Gavaskar told NDTV after the match. (Pics: Boom Boom Dhawan paints Green Park red)
The 27-year-old has also hit five fifties in ODIs. Interestingly, while he made his Test debut earlier this year, he had fallen of selectors' reckoning after his ODI debut in 2010. "I think he realized in the last couple of years when he was out of the team that his very good-looking 20s and 30s weren't doing his skills any justice," said Gavaskar. "A good long at oneself is important and I think Shikhar has done that. Look how good he has become."
Dhawan's 're-birth' in international cricket has been phenomenal with big knocks replacing solid starts, this year. The opener averages 46.88 in ODIs with a strike rate of 94. In Tests, the numbers only improve as the Delhi player averages 81 with a staggering strike rate of almost 103. His heroics at the top have also eased pressure on other batsmen like Yuvraj Singh who hit a fifty in his company, on Wednesday. "Luckily for him (Yuvraj), Shikhar Dhawan was batting so well at the other end that he could play himself in and take his time," said Gavaskar. (Also read: Runs will come, have to handle tough times, says Yuvraj)
Yuvraj (32 on December 12 this year) scored 55 in the Kanpur ODI, a knock which took him 74 deliveries. Gavaskar praised the veteran south-paw for his efforts but added that one can't expect flamboyancy from Yuvraj anymore. "It was an innings of experience. It may not have been a youthful knock as we have seen him play several years ago but the fact that he has 9000 runs and that he is still a great fielder means that his value has not diminished."