By: Chinmay Vaidya
It's no real secret Shikhar Dhawan performs better in ICC competitions. It's why he's been dubbed "ICC Shikhar" by many, including us here at The Follow On. However, the gap between his ICC and non-ICC numbers is quite staggering and it makes Dhawan finding his form almost imperative for India to rise to the top and win the 2019 World Cup.
Dhawan wasn't really a major factor in Indian cricket for the early part of his career. He'd been good, but not great in IPL and his international resume was quite ordinary. Then the 2015 World Cup happened and all of a sudden, "ICC Shikhar" had arrived.
With Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag happily retired, India turned to Rohit Sharma and Dhawan to open the batting. The left-hander responded in the 2015 tournament with a team-high 412 runs, including two centuries and one half-century. His 51.50 true average was one of the best on the team and he proved he could be a star in a lineup full of them.
The 2017 Champions Trophy was another telling moment. Dhawan tallied 338 runs to once again lead India in that department. He notched one century, two half-centuries and a true average of 67.60. So how much better is "ICC Shikhar" compared to the one playing in normal ODIs?
The methodology here is pretty simple. I took Dhawan's ICC matches (1 World Cup and 2 Champions Trophy events) and tallied up his average, strike rate, century rate and half-century rate. I then subtracted his ICC stats from his overall numbers, giving me his non-ICC match numbers. After calculating the average, strike rate, century rate and half-century rate from his non-ICC matches, here's the comparison for Dhawan. The blue bars represent his non- ICC numbers and the red bars represent his ICC numbers. The first graph is for average and strike rate, with average on the left and strike rate on the right.
There's not really a big difference in strike rate, but the average is better by more than 20 runs. Dhawan, for some reason, simply scores more per match in ICC events. The sample size is obviously very different (18 ICC to 109 non-ICC), but think about this: Dhawan has replicated his high scoring in three separate ICC events from 2013, 2015 and 2017. It's hard to think his good form suddenly kicks in at the exact time the ICC event rolls around. There's something about pressure games that gets Dhawan going. Next up, his century and half-century conversion rates. Blue bars represent his non-ICC numbers and red bars show his ICC ones. Century rate is on the left, half-century rate is on the right.
The half-century rates are similar. Dhawan converts a 50 about 21 percent of the time in regular ODIs and 22 percent of the time in ICC ODIs. It's the century rate that should really excite India. The lefty star converts centuries at nearly 3 times the rate in ICC ODIs as he does in regular ODIs. For some reason, Dhawan clicks more often under pressure than he does in ordinary games. That's not to say he doesn't try in those games, but there's just something about ICC competition that brings out the best in him.
For India, which relies on its top 3 batsmen heavily, Dhawan re-discovering his ICC form once again would be a godsend. The left-hander has developed into star over three ICC tournaments and his performance in this one will shape his cricket legacy. If he can put on another run show while leading India to the top of the tournament and collecting some individual records himself, his status as "ICC Shikhar" will be cemented.
Note: All statistics as of May 25, 2019