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Delhi's 'Gabbar' roars with record back-to-back IPL tons

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Dubai, Oct 21 (IANS) Shikhar Dhawan etched his name in history books by becoming the first player to score back-to-back centuries in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Dhawan, who was yet to score a century in T20 cricket before he scored an unbeaten 101 against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) last Saturday, was unbeaten yet again, on 106 off 61 balls, during Delhi Capitals’ (DC) match against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at the Dubai International Stadium which his team lost by five wickets on Tuesday.

Dhawan took just 57 balls to score his century. He hit 12 fours and three sixes and accounted for more than half of what his team managed with DC ending their innings on 164/5 off 20 overs batting first. Although he ended up on the losing side, no one can take anything away his magnificent effort.

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The left-hander’s first century against CSK ended the longest streak for any batsman without a century in the IPL — 167 innings. He is also the seventh Indian player to have scored more than two centuries in the IPL and joins Virat Kohli (5), Ajinkya Rahane (2), Virender Sehwag (2), Murali Vijay (2), KL Rahul (2), and Sanju Samson (2) on the list.

“I really enjoyed it today. I was this fluent on my Test debut. It’s good that I am scoring consistently, you gain confidence. I make sure I take proper rest and am fresh for the match,” Dhawan said in the post-match presentation ceremony during which he was declared player of the match.

Dhawan joined DC ahead of the 2019 season before which he had played 85 times for SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) and scored 2,518 runs. At SRH, he won the IPL title in 2016 when he scored 501 runs at an average of 38.53 with four half-centuries. His performances were, however, overshadowed by that of his teammate and captain David Warner, who smashed 843 runs at 60.57 with nine half-centuries.

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The Delhi batsman was also the highest scorer for the Delhi Capitals last season with 521 runs at an average of 34.73. It was his first year back with the franchise, having been part of their squad in the maiden season in 2008 when they were called the Delhi Daredevils.

Interestingly, there were murmurs of the 34-year-old being past his prime after the early part of the first half of the season. Dhawan has been out for a single digit score only twice this season but managed to score a 30-plus score in only three of his first six innings this season.

Dhawan broke that run against Mumbai Indians on October 11 but the fact that he scored just 69 runs off 52 balls despite playing through the innings, and that MI went on to cruise to a five-wicket win, hardly helped his case.

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He finally switched gears in their next match against Rajasthan Royals, hit six fours and two sixes on his way to a 33-ball 57 as part of an explosive 85-run stand for the third wicket with DC captain Shreyas Iyer. He subsequently took it to the next level against CSK, often keeping his team in the chase single handedly in the ‘death’ overs. Axar Patel’s blitz in the last over allowed him to finish the match at the non striker’s end with 101* off 58 balls.

On Tuesday, Dhawan was seemingly batting on a different pitch to his teammates with the second highest score after his unbeaten 106 being 14, a score that Shreyas and Rishabh Pant scored individually.

–IANS

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