Dhawan to make Test debut at Mohali
Shikhar Dhawan made his first-class debut in 2004 as a 21-year-old. His attacking shot-making brought him to the doors of the national selectors many a times. But the knock was hardly made. As Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir served India with flamboyance and grit, Shikhar, like many Indian opening batsmen of his time, remained in the category of Test hopefuls.
Importantly, the opener from Delhi held on to the hope and continued to churn out runs at the domestic level. He made his ODI debut in 2010, against Australia and now he is on the cusp of playing his first Test match for India, against the same opponent.
On the eve of the third Test of the 2013 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Shikhar addressed the media, hence conforming that he has pipped Ajinkya Rahane to replace Virender Sehwag at the top of the order.
The coach and the captain told me today morning that I am playing,” Shikhar said. “I have prepared well and I will try to give my 100 percent to the team.”
“I’ve performed really well at domestic cricket since a long time and I am happy that I have reached the threshold of being where I always dreamt of being. I now have new dreams for the future and I’ll strive to make them come true,” said Dhawan, who will, on Thursday, become the 277th cricketer to play Test cricket for India.
Dhawan has got his big break after playing 81 first-class matches in which he has scored 5679 runs at 45.79. He has crossed the three-figure mark 16 times and scored 24 half-centuries, with a highest first-class score of 224.
The 27-year-old batsman believes that his vast experience at the domestic level means he is venturing into the tough world of Test cricket with confidence and maturity.
“Playing domestic cricket makes you really mature. When you play Ranji Trophy for three-four years, your opponents figure out your weaknesses. That’s when your patience is tested and the bowlers are after you all the time.
“In North India we also play on a lot of green tracks. When you score runs in those challenging conditions, you become confident of performing at the highest level. I feel lucky that I’m playing Test cricket with so much of domestic cricket experience under my belt. Failing to make the national team for so long has made me more determined and mature as a cricketer,” he said.
Besides his self-belief, what will also ease down Shikhar’s debutant nerves is India’s strong position in the series. He also said that having a familiar opening partner in Murali Vijay will help his cause.
“There is a definite comfort factor with Vijay. We have played together in the Irani Cup and we have a good understanding between us, especially in terms of calling and running between the wickets.
“It’s good that we are 2-0 ahead of them and the confidence of our team is very high. As our coach told us, we have to start afresh again as we’re coming from a break,” he said.
There were reports of Cheteshwar Pujara struggling with his knee ahead of the Mohali Test and that he might miss out. But Shikhar confirmed that India’s No.3 batsman “is fit and will play the match.”