It will be an emotional homecoming for Dhawan as captain but inclement weather in Delhi could disrupt plans
NEW DELHI: Shikhar Dhawan slogged for years in the anonymity of domestic cricket. The Ferozeshah Kotla was his home during those anxious years waiting to break into the Indian team.
Two months away from turning 37, Dhawan has landed in Delhi as captain of the Indian team, although one widely referred to as a ‘second-string’ one. To his credit, this team has held its own against a full-strength South African team, heading into the third and final ODI with a 1-1 scoreline.

It’s an emotional homecoming for Dhawan. The prospect of leading an Indian team on his home turf is just the shot in the arm he needed at this late stage of his career. Dhawan has always been a happy-go-lucky character who has seldom showed the pressures he must have been under at different stages of cricketing journey. He has been forever subjected to proving a point and justifying his place in the Indian team. That he has been one of India’s most prolific scorers in big tournaments has been lost in the deluge of constant cricket.


Dropped from the T20scheme of things, ODI cricket is all that Dhawan has left to assert his presence. With the ODI World Cup in India a year away, Dhawan is still not guaranteed a spot. Consistency has never been a major problem for him. Yet, he seems to have dropped low in the pecking order. He has not hit his stride yet in this series, scoring four and 13 in the previous two matches. Thus, it will be tough to find someone more eager to take the field on Tuesday than Dhawan himself. But the weather poses a big threat.


On the eve of the match, there was tension in the air around the Arun Jaitley Stadium. The weather had finally relented for a few hours in the afternoon after four days of incessant rain. The ground staff could finally take off the covers. Umpire Anil Chaudhary was right there at the centre square, overseeing curator Ankit Datta’s effort to frantically dry up the entire ground.


The ground staff worked overtime to drain the water from the surface of the turf. Yet, the ground appeared distinctly damp. The evening rain posed a problem. The ground staff hope for a few hours of sunshine on Tuesday morning to get a full game in. At this moment, the chances of having a full game seem remote.


The Kotla pitch has historically been low and slow. Over the last few years, it has produced big scores in the IPL. South Africa comfortably chased down 211 here in a T20I this June. But the pitch has been under covers for four days. Monday was the first time the curator could see the pitch in three days. There’s bound to be sweating and a lot of moisture.


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By Dipak

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