Born: December 5, 1985, Delhi
Major Teams: India, Deccan Chargers, Delhi, Delhi Capitals, Delhi Daredevils, Indian Board President's XI, Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad
Playing Role: Opening Batsman
Batting Style: Left Hand Bat
Bowling Style: Right Arm Offbreak
Product: Kahuna Pro Players
Shikhar Dhawan stunned all observers, and Australia, when he stroked his way to the fastest Test century by a debutant. That debut, in Mohali in 2012-13, came to Dhawan in his ninth year of first-class cricket after he had been written off by almost everybody, not least because India's opening combination had been fixed to the most prolific combination in their Test history: Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
Dhawan is one in a long line of stroke-players from Delhi, which became the Indian batting capital in the 2000s. He stands upright in his stance, is a bit stiff with his hands when he pushes forward, and is partial to the cover-drive. Those who played domestic cricket with him say he is supremely confident, bordering on showmanship. He is also a flamboyant personality with his ever-changing looks and the twirled moustache.
However, the attractive strokes, which were apparent even in the 2003-04 Under-19 World Cup where he was the Player of the Tournament for scoring 505 runs at 84.16 with three centuries, didn't seem to translate into huge seasons in Ranji Trophy. His average stayed steady in the mid-40s, but he didn't quite dare the selectors to overlook him. After lukewarm showing in the IPL and five ODIs, and with the Test openers going well, it seemed Dhawan would be left consigned to domestic cricket and T20 leagues.
Fortune turned, though, and both Sehwag and Gambhir lost form dramatically, giving Dhawan a chance at the age of 27 with 81 caps and 5679 first-class runs to his name already. Dhawan grabbed the chance with arguably the best debut by an Indian batsman, smashing 187 off 174 balls to set up India's win in a Test that was reduced to four days. He was picked in India's squad for the Champions Trophy soon after, and carried his sizzling form into that tournament with two centuries in the side's first two matches.
Dhawan's form later tailed off in England and Australia in 2014 but he hit back with 412 runs at 51.50 in India's run to the 2015 World Cup semi-finals.