Punjab Kings pacer Rishi Dhawan has been in the news of late not only because of his bowling but also because of his face shield that he has been wearing while bowling.

Since he fast wore the shield, there is a lot of buzz around his unique avatar. There were inquisitive questions from fans to know what it is called and why he is wearing such a shield?

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Rishi Dhawan was a regular feature in IPL five years back. But an accident had put his career in uncertainty. Dhawan was hit on the face during his bowling follow-through during a Ranji Trophy game against Tripura. The impact of the ball had left him with three cheekbone fractures. He had to undergo a surgery.

Recalling the moment of misfortune, Dhawan said, “It was a caught and bowled chance, and I failed to react quickly, and the ball went between my palms and hit my face. There were three cracks in my cheekbones, and it got dislocated. I had to go through the surgery. It happened on February 25, and the surgery took place on March 2.”

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Doctors had initially said he would need a year off from cricket. After waiting so long to return to the IPL, Dhawan cursed his misfortune while lying on a hospital bed. “This year, when I was finally picked, I got injured. I thought this is it, I might not get a chance to play in the IPL again. There was a storm going inside my head. But thankfully, everything worked out. I was able to make a comeback. The nerves are settled now,” Dhawan said.

He missed the first six games of the season during the recovery period. Since his return to the league, Dhawan began his campaign with a game against Chennai Super Kings and caught everyone’s attention immediately because of the transparent face shield he wore. He also held his nerve to dismiss Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni in a tight finish. But it was the shield that had become the talk of the town.

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“It became a talking point. I missed the earlier games as the bones hadn’t healed properly. I will be playing with the faceguard for five-six months till the bones are fixed, and the swelling comes down. I thought I wouldn’t be able to play in the IPL, but doctors suggested that I can play with the face shield,” he said.

In T20 cricket, bowlers often find themselves in line of fire as batters try to go hard at the ball to score maximum runs from a ball.

However, Dhawan is not the first cricketer to wear a face shield during a circket match.

Otago’s Warren Barnes wore a face mask because he lost sight of the ball for a fraction of a second as his head dropped during release.

In his return to the IPL, Dhawan has bowled to some of the most dengerous batters like Liam Livingstone, Jonny Bairstow, and Sharukh Khan in the nets. But the trauma of being hit once already does not play on his mind anymore.

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“I started bowling only when my face shield arrived. I only used to bowl at a single stump in the nets. Once I got the confidence back then, I started bowling to the batters in the nets. There is no fear as such, but in cricket, anything can happen. I hope it is just a one-off freak injury,” Dhawan said.

In his comeback game, Dhawan bowled to Dhoni, a great finished of the game, at the death. He had a cushion of 27 runs but the aura of the former India captain can make bowlers nervous.

Dhoni greeted him with a big six over backward square leg, but Dhawan stuck to his plans.

Finishing on the right side of this battle was a personal victory for Dhawan.