It's impossible not to like Shikhar Dhawan. The little choti at the back of his head, the twirled moustache, an endearing, disarming smile which reaches his eyes, a relaxed attitude, good manners. Oh, and the batting. The magical, almost subliminal batting, a sight for sore eyes, a feast for the aficionado and the layman alike, a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
Dhawan is no prodigy who has burst out of nowhere. He isn't 18 or even 20, sent down to the earth only to wow audiences with his incandescent strokeplay and his iridescent presence. He is no Tendulkar, blessed by the cricketing Gods who have always accepted him as one of their own. Where Tendulkar evokes awe and respect - as he has for more than half his life now - Dhawan attracts admiration for the manner in which he has turned things around and transformed himself from a journeyman cricketer to a young man with the cricketing world at his feet.
One of the drawbacks of being a genius such as Tendulkar is that the focus is on the finished product and the numbers rather than the effort gone into harnessing a skill-set bestowed only upon the fortunate few. The little man bristles whenever anyone so much as suggests that things have come easy to him; batting does come easy to the maestro, but that's as much to do with immense natural ability as the hours and hours of practice in relative anonymity - if that's possible in his case - away from public glare.