Big matches bring the best out of some players. Think Yuvraj Singh in the 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 ODI World Cup or Gautam Gambhir in the final of the 2007 World T20 or the 2011 World Cup. Some players have an affinity towards the bigger stage and are far more likely to succeed there than others. Dealing with pressure and expectations is a challenge that is sometimes much tougher than dealing with the ball across the 22 yards. Few have successfully done it and even fewer have kept at it.
A rather unlikely candidate in the list of big match players is Shikhar Dhawan. The pugnacious, bullish Indian opener has a liking towards ICC events and has time and again rose to the occasion for Team India. When India won the Champions Trophy in England, Shikhar Dhawan was the engineer of that triumph, finishing as the leading run scorer in the tournament.
That it came in conditions he wasn't expected to succeed in makes things even more interesting. Two years later in the ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Dhawan went into the tournament, not in the best of forem after suffering from a slew of poor scores in Australia in the Tests.
His selection was baffling, to say the least. However, he vindicated the trust shown on him by the selectors as he yet again rose to the occasion and smashed two hundreds in the tournament to take India to the semi-finals.
As another Champions Trophy approaches, Dhawan is once again in the spotlight. He has peaked at the right time, finishing as the third highest run-scorer in the IPL and now India will hope that he can shine again in a multi-nation tournament. Here we take a look at five of Dhawan's best knocks in ICC tournaments.
#5 114 (94) vs South Africa (ICC Champions Trophy, June 2013, Cardiff)
It was the first match of the Champions Trophy and India were facing tournament favourites, South Africa. Dhawan, who had a poor run in the warm-up games went into open the batting with Rohit Sharma.
The Delhi southpaw was in a rampant mood and took on the trio of Proteas seamers – Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Rory Klienveldt. India raced to 100 at run a ball with the openers going strong.
Dhawan reached his half-century off 44 balls and proceeded to attack Ryan McLaren and Robin Peterson, the weak links of the Proteas bowling. He soon reached his maiden ODI hundred, off 80 balls. He eventually fell for 114 to JP Duminy but not before India were well on their way to posting a total of 331. At the end of the day, he walked away with the Man of the Match award after India posted a 26-run win