Shikhar Dhawan is as important to India's pursuit of World Cup glory as Virat Kohli, says former national skipper Sourav Ganguly, after the opener's match-winning knock bumped Delhi Capitals into the top four.
Andre Russell's remarkable Indian Premier League season continued with another devastating blitz for the Kolkata Knight Riders, but Dhawan's unbeaten 97 from only just 63 deliveries saw Delhi home by three wickets in the penultimate over.
KKR opener Shubman Gill had fired with a 39-ball 65, before Russell cracked four sixes to lead the hosts to 7-178.
It continues Russell's astonishing and incredibly consistent tournament; the lower-order hitter now sits third on the run-scoring charts with 302 at 101 (and a strike-rate of 213), despite batting well down the order, while he's also picked up six wickets.
Russell's six innings have yielded scores of 49 not out (off 19 balls), 48 (off 17), 62 (off 28), 48 not out (off 13), 50 not out (off 44) and Friday's 45 (off 21).
But Dhawan stood tallest on at Eden Gardens, falling three runs short of a maiden T20 century as Colin Ingram hit a six to clinch the game with seven balls to spare.
Dhawan paid tribute to the influence of coach Ricky Ponting, as well as Delhi mentor Ganguly, who heaped praise on the left-hander.
The ex-Indian skipper put Dhawan in the same category as Kohli, MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma in terms of their importance to India's 50-over side.
"The three best players in one-day cricket: Dhawan, Rohit, Virat. And Dhoni, four," Ganguly told the IPL's website. "When he gets set and gets in he's unstoppable.
"When he is determined, no bowler in the world can stop him."
India sit second on the ODI world rankings heading into this year's World Cup, behind hosts England.
Their last World Cup victory was in 2011 on home soil with Dhoni at the helm, with India first lifting the trophy in 1983 under legendary allrounder Kapil Dev.