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Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 12 August 2013 - 11:41pm IST

My favourite one-day knock: Shikhar Dhawan

Indian opener speaks about his record-breaking List A innings of 248

Not often do cricket lovers world over turn away from an eventful day of an Ashes Test to talk about a List A cricket match being played at a nondescript ground. Monday was that kind of a day. While the cricket fraternity was consumed by the fourth Test in Durham, Shikhar Dhawan drew their attention to the LC de Villiers Oval in Pretoria, where India A and South Africa A contested in a virtual semi-final of a tri-series.

Dhawan toppled a few batting records en route his way to a 150-ball knock of 248 runs. He overtook Virender Sehwag’s 219 in an ODI against West Indies in 2011 to register the highest List A score by an Indian. He became the third Indian, after Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag to score a double century in a 50-over match. Dhawan’s 248 is also the second highest List A score of all time, after England’s Alistair Brown’s 268.

In the context of the game and the series, the sensational innings earned a 39-run win for India A and a place in the final against Australia A. Dhawan, who hasn’t looked back since scoring 187 on Test debut, said it was a special innings.

“I was aware of the record and it felt really special to score these runs,” Dhawan told bcci.tv after the match. “When I got out in the 44th over it occurred to me that if I had batted till the end I had a chance to score a triple hundred. I am happy with what I scored though,” he said.

“I especially enjoyed it as it came against a South African side in their own backyard. They are very tough to play at home and they play good quality cricket,” Dhawan rightly said, given the bowling attack comprised internationals of the likes of Juan Theron, Roelof van der Merwe and Justin Ontong.

While the flamboyant left-handed opener blushed at being mentioned in the same breath as India’s legends, he also kept the three innings in perspective. “It did cross my mind that I joined Sachin paaji and Viru paaji in scoring a double century in a one-day game,” he gushed. “A couple of years ago I scored 184 against South Africa A and I’m glad that I could get past the 200-run mark this time.

“However, those were two of the greatest innings in cricket history and they came at the international level. So, they are much bigger than my innings.”

Since Dhawan’s sensational Test debut, comparisons between him and his senior Delhi pro have been rife, and not unjustifiably. Like Sehwag, a major part of Dhawan’s charisma and penchant to play big shots, is his unflinching self-confidence. He acknowledges his abilities without being arrogant. He loves what he does.

Dhawan’s reply when asked to pick the best among the three knocks brought that quality to the fore. “I’ve always loved watching Sachin paaji and Viru paaji bat,” he said. “But I love my batting as well. So, it’s difficult for me to pick one favourite knock of the three.”

In the past, criticized for impulsive and obsessive shot-making, Dhawan 2.0 is also armed with doggedness to compliment his aggression. In 2013, he has scored four international centuries – one in Tests and three in ODIs – and was named the Man of the Series of India’s victorious Champions Trophy campaign.

The way he talks about taking responsibility and playing long innings, is but a reflection of his attitude. “I had scored 85 in the previous match and I wanted to score a big hundred for the team because our batsmen were all getting out in the 80s and 90s,” he said. “A big century was necessary for giving a good total to the team. Once I crossed the 100, I was in a different flow. I thought I made smart choice of shots and things went my way.”

Dhawan’s countrymen were denied the joy of watching a special innings, as the match wasn’t televised in India. While it is unfortunate in an obvious way, from a different point of view, it adds to the romance of the knock.

“This will remain one of my favourite matches because I scored 200 for the first time in a 50-over game. Unfortunately it didn’t come live on the television but that’s fine because I loved batting.”

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