Rishi Dhawan featured in the Tata IPL 2022 for the first time in six years on Monday, having played his last IPL game for PBKS (then Kings XI Punjab) back in 2016.
Dhawan kept his cool to defend 27 off the last over, bowling to one of the best finishers in business, MS Dhoni. While his bowling sealed the win for Punjab, he also made headlines for another reason - donning a one-of-a-kind mask while coming out to bowl.
For those unaware, the Himachal Pradesh captain sustained an injury while playing the 2022 Ranji Trophy ahead of the Tata IPL, the treatment for which meant he was unavailable for the first four PBKS games of the season.
The all-rounder incurred a hit to his face in his followthrough while bowling and had to undergo a nose surgery as part of his recovery. “I was making a (IPL) comeback after four years, so I was disheartened when I got injured in the Ranji Trophy,” he said to the Punjab Kings.
What's more dangerous than a lion? 𝘼 𝙝𝙪𝙣𝙜𝙧𝙮 𝙡𝙞𝙤𝙣. #SherSquad, tune in to this video to find out the reason behind @rishid100's initial absence & how he is all set for a roaring comeback now 👊#SaddaPunjab #PunjabKings #IPL2022 #ਸਾਡਾਪੰਜਾਬ #RishiDhawan pic.twitter.com/mnKKULSSrz— Punjab Kings (@PunjabKingsIPL) April 24, 2022
He wore the face guard, seen far more commonly in the NBA and the EPL, to allow himself a smooth recovery and to train without fear. While IPL viewers were surprised by the mask, the Sher Squad had already seen Rishi wear the face guard in nets.
Twitter users were amused by his face guard, and some hailed it as a big step with respect to more bowlers using this to protect themselves from potential injuries.
Rishi Dhawan is wearing that face mask due to a nose injury. It is quite common in football but this is the first time someone has worn it in cricket. #IPL #CSKvsPBKS #CSKvPBKS #Dhawan pic.twitter.com/krElymPYuv— A little voice (@Alittlevoice1) April 25, 2022
So the mystery has been revealed, the real reason Rishi Dhawan was wearing this mask/shield was because he had anticipated himself bowling the last over to Dhoni! 😂#CSKvsPBKS pic.twitter.com/SdEm2176Ky— Kevin Rodrigues (@kevinbelieves) April 25, 2022
Rishi Dhawan is the man of firsts. He is the first bowler to be wearing a protective mask in #IPL. As @venkatatweets shared he was hit on head in follow through during Ranji Trophy. It should become a normal now since I’ve seen a lot of bowlers getting hit in the follow through pic.twitter.com/jPDZLJdu07— Mohsin Kamal (@64MohsinKamal) April 25, 2022