Shikhar Dhawan turns 38: Reliving the career highlights of Indian team's 'Gabbar'

Shikhar Dhawan turns 38: Reliving the career highlights of Indian team's 'Gabbar'
Image source: ICC

New Delhi, India: Over the course of its 90-year international cricket history, Team India has progressed from being the ultimate underdog to producing some of the world's top cricketers, blessed with absolute grace with the willow or bamboozling with the bowl.

India has never been short of cricketing talent or star power. Every decade produced multiple talents, including CK Nayadu, Vinoo Mankad, Vijay Hazare, MAK Pataudi, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, and Virat Kohli.

One such star Shikhar Dhawan, one of the best openers India have produced, turned 38 on Tuesday. Dhawan last played for India a year ago, when he appeared in an ODI series in Bangladesh. This will be Dhawan's first birthday without the rigours and delights of international cricket in his everyday routine in the last 13 years.

Dhawan, who jostled with the likes of his Delhi mates Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for the opening slot, got the opportunity of a lifetime when he was paired with Rohit Sharma at the top of the order for ICC Champions Trophy 2013. The pairing changed the careers of both batters, as they emerged as two of the deadliest willow-wielders in world cricket.

While Rohit 'Hitman' Sharma accumulated record-breaking double tons, mesmerised crowds with his sixes and competed with Virat Kohli in terms of statistics and shotmaking, Shikhar still ruled the opening slot and was a darling of the fans for his batting exploits and the trademark twirl of his moustache, earning him the nickname 'Gabbar'.

However, he was slowly reduced to number 3 in the pecking order, as the popularity of Rohit and Kohli soared.

After featuring in his last Test in 2018, Dhawan became exclusively a white-ball cricketer. Competition from KL Rahul and his age made things tougher for him to hold on to his place in white-ball cricket. Though he still plays white-ball cricket, he is not the first choice every time, often stepping in due to the absence of KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma.

He is mostly assigned to lead the next generation of Indian cricketers and share with them the experience he has attained in his 12-year career.

Dhawan played a vital role in India's 2013 Champions Trophy triumph. He topped the batting charts in the showpiece event, winning the 'Man of the Tournament' award. In five matches, he scored 363 runs at an average of 90.75, with two centuries and one fifty. His best score was 114.

Though India's 50-over World Cup title defence stopped at the semifinal in 2015, 'Gabbar' still won many hearts with his batting performances, massively outdoing both Rohit and Virat. In eight matches, he aggregated 412 runs at an average of 51.50, with two centuries and one fifty. He finished the event as India's top scorer and overall, the fifth-highest scorer in the tournament.

It was the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy that saw Dhawan return to prime form. In India's runner-up finish, it was Dhawan who topped the tournament's batting charts in yet another ICC tournament. He scored 338 runs in five matches at an average of 67.60, with one century and two fifties, with a best score of 125.

In India's 2018 Asia Cup win, Shikhar impressed once again, helping India clinch their seventh title. In five matches, he scored 342 runs at an average of 68.40, with two centuries.