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Aug 16, 2013 at 10:00am IST

Red-hot Shikhar Dhawan burning up the charts

Here's a telling statistic: in the history of ODI cricket, only one batsman has aggregated more runs after 19 innings than India's latest batting star, Shikhar Dhawan. That is statistical evidence not just of how strong an impact Dhawan has made but also of the rich vein of form he is in, because his first five ODI innings produced just 69 runs.

Since being recalled to India's ODI team ahead of June's ICC Champions Trophy, Dhawan has scored 707 runs in 14 innings at an average of 54.38 and strike-rate of 93.51, inclusive of three centuries and two fifties. He marked his return to the side after two years with a maiden century, against South Africa at Cardiff in the Champions Trophy opener, and finished that tournament as the leading run-getter and the Man-of-the-Series award.

ALSO SEE Dhawan smashes 248, misses List A record

Dhawan has batted in all 19 of his ODIs, and taking that as a cut-off only one other cricketer has scored more runs at that stage of his career - the former Australia batsman Steve Smith. Smith, now 51, scored 787 runs in his first 19 innings at an average of 43.72 with two hundreds and eight fifties. Dhawan's 776 runs from 19 innings puts him second to Smith.

Red-hot Shikhar Dhawan burning up the charts

In the history of ODI cricket, only one batsman has aggregated more runs after 19 innings than India's latest batting star.

The next best after 19 innings is incidentally Dhawan's opening partner in ODIs, Rohit Sharma, who after the same number of visits to the crease had scored 609 runs at 35.82, with six half-centuries and no hundreds.

ALSO SEE I could have scored a triple ton: Dhawan

England's Dennis Amiss had a rollicking start to his ODI career in the 1970s, rattling away 858 runs in 18 innings. However, that is all he played in ODI cricket.

No batsman has scored more centuries after 19 innings than Dhawan's three, each of which have come this summer. Dhawan followed his 127 with 101 against West Indies at The Oval in his very next innings and after a brief lull he hit back back 116 against Zimbabwe last month.

ALSO SEE Dhawan's blitz in SA invites Surrey attention

In terms of strike-rate, Dhawan's 88.28 after 19 innings is only behind Canada's Rizwan Cheema (120.32) and Netherlands' Darren Reekers (117.03). Both these batsman play for Associate Members, where the competition is weaker.

Here's a breakdown of Dhawan's performance by opponents.

v Australia: M 1, R 0, Avg 0

v England: M 1, R 31, Avg 31

v Pakistan: M 1, R 48, Avg 48

v South Africa: M 1, R 114, Avg 114

v Sri Lanka: M 4, R 123, Avg 41.83

v West Indies: M 7, R 251, Avg 41.83

v Zimbabwe: M 4, R 209, Avg 52.25

This golden form is an extension of the form Dhawan has been in this year. On Test debut, he smashed the quickest century by a batsman in his first innings. Then he injured himself in the same match and missed a chunk of the IPL. Once fit, he top-scored for Sunrisers Hyderabad with 311 at 38.87 to force his selection for the Champions Trophy, his first ODI appearance since July 2011 in the West Indies. He went on to score the most runs for any player in the Champions Trophy and helped India clinch the title.

This form has been carried into the ongoing India A tour of South Africa. In the triangular which precedes two unofficial Test matches, Dhawan has been in great form scoring 15, 85, a career-best 248 off 150 balls and 62 in four innings. That amazing double-century saw Dhawan come with 21 runs of breaking the all-time highest individual score in List A cricket, and contained 30 fours and seven sixes. This excellent run of form was crucial to India winning the tri-series.

His celebrations on reaching hundreds have been as smooth as his batting - the spread-eagled pose, the beaming smile, the twirl of the moustache. Joy of delivering on the big stage, yes, but nothing overbearing or over-the-top. Not for Dhawan is a springboard leap, a punch of the air, a pumped-up wave of the bat or chaste Hindi gaalis. He appears grounded in reality, aware that failure lurks around the corner. He wants to stake his claim with loads of runs, and knows that there are stiffer challenges ahead, especially in Tests, with tours of South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia lined up.

Right now, though, the 27-year-old just seems to be enjoying his cricket. And that's the key to success.

Have your say: Do you think Shikhar Dhawan is here to stay?

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