A stalwart for India in ODIs and a true king of Punjab Kings, Shikhar Dhawan, was at the helm of things once again when we met West Indies in Port of Spain. The series opener, which was held on Friday, saw Shikhar Dha-captain lead his team from the front. In what was just his fourth match as an ODI captain, he put into use his experience of 152 matches and weaved magic on the field with the bat, as the opposition captain opted to field first.
Along with Shubman Gill, Dhawan built a solid opening partnership (119 runs) for India which gave his team the edge over the familiar opponents. Dhawan reached his fifty in 53 balls, hence becoming the oldest India captain to do so in ODIs. Even after Gill’s (64 off 53) rather unfortunate run out, in the same over, Dhawan didn’t let the momentum fade away and built a solid 94-run partnership with Shreyas Iyer (54 off 57).
In a heartbreaking turn of events, Dhawan on 97(99) aimed to find the gap off a wide of off stump delivery by Windies spinner Gudakesh Motie but found the fielder instead. Hence, putting an end to a brilliant innings and falling just three runs short of a memorable hundred. However, his 97 went on to pave the way for a victory for Team India.
Breakthroughs were few and far between for India in the West Indies’s chase of 309 runs. Siraj, Chahal, and Shardul bagged two scalps each but it was Dhawan’s runs which made the most impact in the game that saw a last-ball finish. India won by 3 runs and that’s the kind of poetic justice the world writes about.
He didn’t get to his hundred but he was more than happy to lead India to an ODI victory for the 3rd time in the 4 matches that he has been captain. The win was all the more special because of the fact that India achieved it in the absence of stalwarts Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, Rishabh Pant, Jasprit Bumrah, and the likes.
“It was disappointing [not getting a hundred] but grateful for 97. I enjoyed it,” Dhawan, who was also adjudged the Player of the Match, said.
“It was difficult as it was holding a bit and it turned. When Shubman, Shreyas and I were batting, we wanted to go big and make it easy for the youngsters. We had nerves as we didn't expect them to come this close. Fine leg went back and two three boundaries were stopped there which helped,” he added.
“We thought of using the bigger side, we gave doubles to fine leg. One of them should have been a run out but not everyday is a perfect day. We have to get better.”