In November 2018, Sunrisrers Hyderabad confirmed reports of a big change in their set-up, announcing that Shikhar Dhawan was being traded to Delhi Capitals (they were still Daredevils then) because, among other things, he had felt "unsettled" by the relatively low - for a marquee Indian player - price of INR 5.2 crore that he was bought for in the previous auction.
In return, Sunrisers got the trio of Vijay Shankar, Shahbaz Nadeem and Abhishek Sharma. On the face of it, this seemed a smart trade. Dhawan had been solid at the top of the order without being spectacular, and Sunrisers had David Warner and Kane Williamson anyway - that Jonny Bairstow would be so effective, no one probably expected back then. In return, they were getting an allrounder who had already made it to the Indian team, a left-arm spinner who had excelled at domestic cricket and in the IPL for several years, and an exciting young talent who could be a future star.
So far in IPL 2019, though, it's Capitals who are looking like they got the better deal. Dhawan has had a blockbuster season. In contrast, Vijay has fizzled out after a promising start, and the duo of Nadeem and Abhishek have only got three games each for Sunrisers. Here's how the season has gone for each of the four.
Matches: 14, Innings: 14, Runs: 486, Avg: 37.38, S/R: 137.28
Dhawan began the season in lukewarm fashion. While he did spend time in the middle, the runs were not coming quickly enough, and his sluggishness at the top was reflected in Capitals' position on the points table. Then, coach Ricky Ponting fired off a verbal rocket about Dhawan needing to score quicker, and a transformation took place. He hit a personal IPL best of 97 not out against Kolkata Knight Riders and his season turned around. Until that match, he had scored 152 runs in six games. The average (25.33) and strike rate (116.03) were tepid. Since that innings, he has amassed 334 runs in eight matches at an average of 47.71 and a strike rate of 149.78. His only single-digit score in the last eight innings has come, ironically, against Sunrisers. In fact, since that unbeaten 97, Dhawan is the third highest run-getter in the tournament, marginally behind Quinton de Kock and David Warner, who both have 343 runs. His current strike rate of 137.28 is the best he has ever had in an IPL season.
Matches: 14, Innings: 13, Runs: 219, Avg: 19.90, S/R: 120.32
Vijay began the season in a blaze of big strokes, with his first three innings netting him 84 runs at a strike rate of 200, being not out once. From going at two runs per ball, in seven of his next ten innings, he didn't even score at a run-a-ball. There was a perception that he had tailed off after India's World Cup squad was announced, but that is far from the truth. Vijay's downturn began with Sunrisers' fourth game, on April 4, and in four matches until the announcement on April 15, he scored less than a run-a-ball each time, totalling only 48 runs from 60 balls. Overall this season, he's bowled only eight overs, and never more than two in a match.
Matches: 3, Overs: 9, Wickets: 2, Avg: 45.00, E/R: 10.00
Nadeem has played only three games for Sunrisers, and bowled his full quota only once. He was looked at as a viable back-up for Shakib Al Hasan. Though he didn't have the Bangladesh allrounder's batting pedigree, he has shown in domestic cricket he can be handy with the bat, and if the overseas-player combination dictated that Shakib sat out - which he did for the most of the season - Nadeem should have been an easy slot in. He hasn't got too many opportunities to prove himself, though, and in the few he did get, the rustiness of coming in from longish spells on the bench showed.
Matches: 3, Overs: 2, Wickets: 1, Avg: 21.00, E/R: 10.50
His is possibly the strangest case. He was looked at as someone in the mould of Yusuf Pathan, capable of big hits down the order and useful overs of spin. But despite Yusuf's ordinary season, Abhishek has played in only three games, and got a mere two overs to bowl. This despite his first over in his Sunrisers debut getting him the wicket of a rampant Colin Munro with a back-spinning leg-cutter.
Given how well Dhawan has done, and the performance and lack of opportunities for the three men he was traded for, you have to ask - who's won this trade anyway?