Played with bowlers’ minds: Dhawan
What looked like a mountain, the Indian batsmen turned into a molehill as they scaled the 360-run target with 39 balls to spare against Australia. Although they do have one of the strongest batting line-ups in world cricket and are the No.1 ODI team, India had never chased down a 300-plus total against the team from Down Under. But their top three batsmen rewrote the books as they took apart the Australian bowling attack to set new records and level the series 1-1 with five games to go.
Shikhar Dhawan (95 off 86), Rohit Sharma (141* off 123) and Virat Kohli (100* off 52) lit up the Sawai Mansingh Stadium with fireworks in the second ODI at Jaipur adding to the celebrations of the festive season. After the openers, Dhawan and Sharma, put together 176 for the first wicket to keep the hosts in the hunt, Virat Kohli joined the latter to take the team across the line with an unbroken 186-run partnership for the second wicket.
While speaking to bcci.tv later, Dhawan, who has been decimating attacks since early this year, spoke about playing with the bowlers’ minds and partnering with Sharma. While discussing the innings, the 27-year-old from Delhi showered high praise on Sharma and Kohli as he discussed the historic run-chase.
Excerpts from his interview:
What was the plan when you came out to bat?
We just went in with the thought that we are going to play ball by ball and just get us ourselves set first rather than just going and hitting and trying too many things. So we just took our time, and then once we got set, we played our shots and played with the bowler’s mind.
How did you plan and pace the innings?
(We planned to) just play on the merit of the ball and just see what the bowler is doing and what we can do to see them. And so we were thinking about that and then, Rohit and I, both played beautifully and then we gave a very good start to our side.
What do you do when you say you play with bowlers’ minds?
Of course we work on it in the nets. It is like when the bowler is bowling, we can tell what line he is bowling or most of the time he is going to bowl that length. So if I am not comfortable to hit it from there and if I need a boundary, then I like to step out some time or do something different. So it makes the bowler think that the batsman is going to do something. It’s just to disturb his mind and make him bowl something else, which he doesn’t want to.
You step out to fast bowlers as well, and after taking apart the Australia attack on Test debut even today you played in a similar manner
It is a good feeling, especially this game since it was a very big target for us. Mitchell Johnson has got pace and I like to make use of it. And the other bowlers are not that quick, so I thought that I can step out and adjust to their pace and play my shots. So that’s what I did.
What was the discussion at half-time?
When we came in, (MS) Dhoni Bhai said, ‘Treat it like a normal game, we don’t have to play rash shorts just play the way we play and play ball by ball.’ And that’s what we followed.
It seemed like Rohit Sharma and you were keen to finish the game yourselves
I wasn’t thinking about that. But we wanted to bat as long as possible and make that partnership really big; and it was good to score a 150-plus partnership. It was a good feeling. Unfortunately I got out on 95. I would have loved to score a century, but that’s alright. It’s part and parcel of a game and hopefully with the grace of God I will score it in the coming games.
Can you talk to us about the partnership with Rohit Sharma?
We are both very comfortable with each other and know each other’s game. Sometimes he plays aggressively and I step back and play the anchor role and vice versa. So the flexibility is good between us. The good thing about Rohit is he is technically very sound; we both are technically sound that gives us an extra edge. Because when you are playing against the new ball, you need your basics to be really strong.
What is it that you tell yourself while going to chase such a huge target?
I just told myself, ‘It’s not a new thing for us.’ Earlier also we have chased big totals. So we hoped just to play our game, take our time and (then after we settle) attack the bowlers, which is more sensible than rushing things. So enjoy and not take too much pressure.
When they dropped your catch did that give an edge?
For sure, I was praying for them to drop it. It went really high and after that I started. I analysed what shot I should play. When you are chasing such a big score, you have to take risk. But at the end of the day you have take it smartly; that is the key.
Your thoughts on Virat Kohli’s knock
It was amazing to see Virat’s knock and to see him score the fastest century by an Indian. And I have also learnt lots of things from him. He is young and so mature in his batting. So of course I will learn from him. It’s amazing.
And it was amazing to see Rohit’s innings too. He was playing well in the Champions Trophy but he couldn’t really get a century. But over here he got it, so I felt really happy for him.