Shikhar Dhawan is soon turning out to Indian cricket’s milestone man. After smashing his way to a record 187 on his Test debut in March this year, the southpaw achieved another stunning feat, smashing 248 off just 150 balls (30 fours & seven sixes) against South Africa ‘A’ at LC de Villiers Oval in Pretoria. Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara scored 109 as India ‘A’ put up a mammoth 433 for three in 50 overs.

Dhawan, who smashed 85 in the last match against the hosts on Friday, became the second highest individual scorer in the history of List A games (limited overs matches) after falling 20 runs short of the record held by former England and Surrey batsman Alistair Brown (268). Dhawan’s blitzkrieg finally came to a halt after being caught behind by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas off Rusty Theron’s bowling.

In reply, South Africa ‘A’ fought hard before falling just 39 runs short of the target. Reeza Hendricks (106) and Vaughn van Jaarsveld (108) scored tons as the hosts finished on 394 in 48.4 overs. Ishwar Pandey was the pick of the India bowlers, claiming four for 76 off his nine overs.

Dhawan’s first 100 came off only 86 balls, while he raced to his second ton in just 46 balls to complete his maiden List A double ton off just 132 balls. Dhawan also surpassed the Indian record in a limited overs game of 219 set by Virender Sehwag.

Dhawan has responded well to the faith reposed in him by the selectors who took the bold decision to drop openers Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. There were fears that India might miss Sehwag’s firepower at the top. However, Dhawan’s coach Tarak Sinha reckoned Dhawan he has successfully filled Sehwag’s void. “India need an opener like Shikhar especially since Sehwag is not part of the team now.

It is too early to consider him to be in the league of Sehwag. He still still has a long way to go to be as successful as Sehwag, but Shikhar has ensured the team does not feel Sehwag’s absence. for now at least,” Sinha told MiD DAY. Dhawan has hardly put a foot wrong ever since his made a re-entry into the Indian team after a gap of three years.

Apart from his lone Test appearance, Dhawan has smashed 707 runs in 14 ODIs, including three centuries and two fifties this year. He was awarded the Golden Bat and Player of the Tournament in India’s victorious ICC Champions Trophy campaign in England in June. The coach felt Dhawan’s knock yesterday was proof that he can play in any conditions.

“There were apprehensions that Dhawan can only bat on Indian wickets. But by doing well in England, Zimbabwe and now South Africa, he has shown that his game is suited to all conditions,” he said.

Sinha felt Dhawan’s biggest asset is his positive approach. “He has always learnt to play positively. He is an attacking player and backs his game. To succeed at the top level, you need to be mentally strong, which he is. He’s a very good stroke-maker. This knock will definitely do a lot of good to his confidence when he arrives for the all-important series in South Africa (later this year),” he signed off.

Courtesy: Mid Day

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