Eleven years since he made his IPL debut with Delhi Daredevils, Shikhar Dhawan is set to play for his home team again in 2019. ESPNcricinfo understands that the batsman is likely to have been traded by Sunrisers Hyderabad in exchange for three players - Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma and Shahbaz Nadeem.
Sunrisers had chosen not to retain Dhawan ahead of last year's auction, where the franchise paid INR 5.2 crore (approx USD 820,000) to buy him back. Since then, there have been murmurs about him being unhappy about his price tag, which eventually led to Sunrisers releasing him through the trade. Since Daredevils had bought the trio of Shankar (INR 3.2 cr), Nadeem (INR 3.2 cr) and Abhishek (INR 55 lakhs) for a total of INR 6.95 crore, Sunrisers would need to pay the balance amount in cash.
Dhawan last played for Daredevils in the first season of the IPL in 2008. Then he moved to Mumbai for a couple of years and finally arrived in Hyderabad, initially playing for Deccan Chargers for a year before joining Sunrisers in 2013.
Dhawan has been the leading run-scorer for Sunrisers with a tally of 2768 from 91 innings at an average of 35.03 and strike-rate of 125.13. In the 2018 IPL, he made 497 runs at 35.50. His smart strike-rate was 142.82, better than his normal strike-rate of 136.91.
Although regular captain David Warner was the force behind Sunrisers' IPL win in 2016, Dhawan also played a key role at the top of the order. In fact, the Warner-Dhawan combine (2357) is the third-most prolific pairing behind Chris Gayle-Virat Kohli (2787) and AB de Villiers-Kohli (2525)
In case the deal does go through - both franchises have been tight-lipped, making no public comment - it remains to be seen whether Daredevils have gained much from it, having released three allrounders, all Indians, two of whom (Shankar and Nadeem) are frequent first-choice picks in the XI.
The Dhawan deal is the second big trade ahead of the next IPL auction, scheduled for December 16. Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier released South African wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock to Mumbai Indians in a money-only trade, which involves a franchise selling the player in exchange for money, as opposed to swapping him for another player.
The other trade in the first trading window was RCB releasing Mandeep Singh to Kings XI Punjab in exchange for Australian allrounder Marcus Stoinis.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo