bcci.tv offered in: हिंदी Switch

Shikhar Dhawan - the batsman with swag

You bat like a king, get out like a king, says Dhawan after striking his second ton this Test series

Shikhar Dhawan is on a roll. The ball is hitting the sweet spot more often than not and he is making full use of it. If his 190 in the first Test at Galle was not enough, Dhawan backed it up with another whirlwind innings scoring 119 on day one of the third Test in Kandy. There is swag in his batting. Those deft touches and nudges with nonchalance are often overshadowed with the sheer pace in which he scores his runs. Toss the ball up and he would come down the track and hit you out of the park, pitch it slightly outside off and he would cut the ball to the fence with absolute ease. Some of these facets of his game were seen on a bright Saturday morning at the Pallekele stadium in Kandy as he paved his way to a 6th Test ton.

Along with KL Rahul, he put up a 188-run opening stand taking India to a position of advantage early on in the innings. Rahul unfortunately got out for 85, while Dhawan looked like getting a big score before he was out caught at square leg trying to go for a big shot. When asked if he regretted playing that shot or if Rahul was disappointed to get out in that fashion, Dhawan said, “I was saying jokingly that if you bat like a king, you should also get out like a king, you should not be dismissed like a soldier. If you have made runs aggressively, then you will get out that way too. That’s how it is. I know I am an aggressive batsman, so I would rather get out that way than getting out in the slips and being defensive because that is not my natural game. My game, my planning is to keep scoring, it works for me. My strength is to score quickly and I like to play to my strengths.”

Dhawan was impressive against the spinners as well. He used his feet well and also dealt with severity on occasions. Lakshan Sandakan, the Chinaman looked impressive but Dhawan was reading him well off the hand after trying to gauge him for a few overs. “Sandakan was bowling well. He was turning the ball and one odd ball was turning a lot. It was hard for me to pick his googly once or twice because I had not played him. It was my first time. But after I was set and once I saw him, then I knew what he was doing. I could pick his googly. His googly comes a bit slower than his normal delivery, so when you spend time, you realise things and you work according to that. He was turning the ball and that’s why I was playing him more cautiously rather than being over-aggressive.”

Dhawan acknowledged the fact that the pitch was not responsible for their (openers) mode of dismissals, in fact it was their intentions to go for the shots – to which there were no qualms. “The pitch is a bit on the slower side and does not have much of bounce in it. Rahul and myself played very nicely. We were playing our shots and got out, it was not as if we were getting out because of the pitch. The Sri Lankan bowlers bowled well and pulled the match a little bit on their side but we have got a decent score and good batsmen to go and score more runs tomorrow.”

From 188 for no loss, India went on to end the day with 329/6. Dhawan was not too bothered about the team’s loss of wickets in a hurry. “That happens. It’s not that it has happened for the first time. We got a good start and still feel at the end of the day, 329 is a good score. It is a wicket where it is not spinning but it doesn’t have bounce, so it’s not easy to score runs out there. When Sri Lanka come out to bat, we are going to make sure that we squeeze them hard and not give away easy runs.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

CommentsBack to article

Every comeback has made me hungrier: Rahul

The opener believed his injury lay offs and times off the field have motivated him to comeback with more hunger to score runs

It was an optional practice session on the eve of the Test match. Only two members turned up for it; KL Rahul and Cheteshwar Pujara - with the rest happy with their preparations decided to take some time off. Pujara was coming into the Colombo Test with a hundred in his bag already. Rahul though was making a comeback of sorts after having had to miss out on the first Test due to an illness. He looked great in the nets and there was positivity oozing out of him – an eagerness to play the next day and score big.

Rahul didn’t look like he was out of touch at all. His feet movement were crisp, his shot selections immaculate and he was in what you call – the zone to get a big one. Unfortunately, Rahul was run-out for 57 and the dejection was there to be seen as he walked back to the pavilion. He didn’t score a ton no doubt, but this innings was significant for a reason.

“It’s been a long time since I have been away from the game and that too at such a young age,” he said. “It’s a big challenge to comeback and very unfortunate that I had to sit out for so long. But you have to keep yourself positive, focussed and motivated to comeback as soon as you can. That was the biggest challenge for me but the minute I walked out into the middle, I was very happy more than anything else. If I did well or didn’t do well, didn’t matter to me because I was very happy. I was happy I could start off with a fifty and make some contribution to the team.”

Battling injuries can be tough, continued Rahul. “I have kind of gotten used to this. More than playing for a long time, I have been in and out of the team because of injuries. It’s never easy to come back. It takes you a couple of games to get back into your groove as an opening batsman, understand where your off-stump is, to understand what pace you have to play at, how many shots are too many, how slow is too slow. There are a lot of things, a lot of doubts in your mind if you keep going out and coming back in but I have enjoyed the challenge.

“No matter how well I have taken care of my body, I have been injured a few times which is very unfortunate and which is very disappointing but each time I have come back, I have come back stronger, I have come back hungrier. I wanted to contribute to the team, wanted to make a difference to the team whenever I was out there in the middle. It’s kind of taught me to value my position, value my opportunities each time I go out on to bat in the middle. I enjoy it and play it like my last game.”

But what has been more confidence boosting is the fact that the team management has backed his abilities so much. Captain Virat Kohli has always been in awe of his temperament and so has the rest of the management who have backed him through thick and thin.

“The security from the team management makes a massive difference. It gives me so much confidence, not just now but even after the surgery, the support staff, the coaches, the boys were constantly messaging me and saying, ‘Whenever you are ready, get ready sooner, the team misses you’ and small things like that make a lot of difference when you are injured and you are down. That kept me motivated, that woke me up each morning to go to physiotherapy and do my boring rehab. It gives you confidence that team is backing you, team trusts you, waiting for you to come back into the team and that makes a big difference and I come back with lot more confidence. I can walk into the team with ease in my head, there is no pressure of me losing my position which is great. The captain and coaches have always given me that support which has played a big role in my small career so far.”

Missing out on Test series and opportunities to play for the country made him hungrier, Rahul asserted. “When you are sitting out and when you are seeing your teammates do well, you do feel very happy but you also feel disappointed that it’s not you in that position doing the job for the country, for the team. Every time I have come back, I have been more hungry. Whatever time I have spent away from the game, I have watched the guys batting. Not just our guys but I watch a lot of cricket, I see the guys and see what they are doing right and I try to bring that into my game.”

There is one habit that Rahul doesn’t want to give away and that is to get hundreds and big ones. But the numbers game never really fascinated him, he emphasised. “I've never chased numbers. My job as an opening batsman is to give the team a good start, lay a solid foundation and I think I've done that so far. Each time I go back to bat, I will want to get more and more runs. I'm learning from my mistakes. That is how the life of a batsman is. You might play 60 balls perfectly and then one ball you get out. We were discussing that in the dressing room just today. All the guys, whoever got out, were playing so well and never looked like getting out until that one ball has your name on it and you have to get out. Might as well enjoy the time you're in the middle and get as many runs as you can.”

Anand Subramaniam
Anand Subramaniam

CommentsBack to article