Shikhar Dhawan became the first in the 13-season history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to score successive centuries, his unbeaten effort of 106 (61b; 4×12; 6×3) coming mostly from shots square of the wicket with those hit down the ground providing the garnishing.
If it wasn’t in a winning cause, it was because Nicholas Pooran compensated for running out Mayank Agarwal with a 28-ball blitz that fetched 53 (4×6; 6×3). Pooran’s clean hitting came after Chris Gayle (29; 13b; 4×3; 6×2) swung his massive arms to string a sequence of 4, 4, 6, 4, 6 from Tushar Deshpande’s first five deliveries.
Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) lost two wickets in the sixth over and KL Rahul before that but Glenn Maxwell (32; 24b; 4×3) took them close before Deepak Hooda and Jimmy Neesham sealed a five-wicket win. This was their third successive victory and now, KXIP have beaten the top three teams in IPL13, the one against leaders Delhi Capitals being the most comfortable.
KXIP vs DC: Full highlights
Dhawan’s top three scores in IPL now are 106, 101 and 97 and he has been not out in all of them. He began Tuesday with a boundary gifted by a Pooran misfield at backward point and served the first of a buffet of sweeps in the innings’ first over, bowled by Glenn Maxwell. He danced down the wicket to let fast bowlers know who was in charge—Dhawan did that to Arshdeep Singh—and the three boundaries in the fifth over bowled by Mohammed Shami encapsulated his innings. There was a pull, one that went past the wicket-keeper and a drive.
Such was Dhawan’s control that he could step out and loft Murugan Ashwin but even as the bowler exclaimed ‘catch it’, the ball dropped well short of Neesham manning the fence. Soon after, Dhawan called ‘two’ after flicking Neesham but the shot was played so fine that it fetched a boundary.
And there was the sweep. The first time Dhawan played it, he got a six. He got similar result off Ravi Bishnoi, hitting it over square-leg, Dhawan’s go-to area for the shot but there was one off Ashwin he swept to the midwicket fence. The best of the night though would be the paddle sweep off Maxwell that almost caressed wicket-keeper Rahul’s pads on way to the boundary.
The first false shot Dhawan played was on 80 when Bishnoi foxed him with flight but the catch dropped between fielders. Wickets fell around him—Delhi Capitals’ score of 164/5 only 58 more than their opener—but in cruise control, Dhawan got to his century with a brace of twos.
Dhawan scored five half-centuries in 2019, four in 2018 and has two this term along with two hundreds. A lot of things have changed this year, mostly for the worse. Dhawan hasn’t.