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Pumped to play the Champions Trophy: Shikhar

Opening batsman believes national call up is a reward for impressive white ball performances

By Anand Subramaniam in
By the looks of how the Mumbai Indians went about their innings, it looked like the pitch at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad was a difficult surface to bat on. It was a classy yet labored innings from Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma who brought up a more than handy 67. Fast forward to Sunrisers’ chase and it looked a cake walk. Playing in their own backyard, they played like they knew the conditions by the back of their hand and showed up as if they owned it.

Taking center stage was Shikhar Dhawan & Moises Henriques who put up a 91-run stand to take their side to a comfortable position in the run-chase especially after David Warner’s early dismissal. There weren’t any fancy shots, not brutal hitting of the cricket ball, just an old fashioned run-chase on display. That strike-rotation, those nudges and occasional attacking shots to keep the scoreboard on check were all ticked off boxes in a pressure-less successful run-chase. Henriques got out on 44, but Shikhar Dhawan carried on the good work with a match-winning half century.

On the day when his name was drafted into the ICC Champions Trophy squad set to start next month, Shikhar justified his selection showing that his white ball prowess was still very much alive. Here’s Dhawan reflecting on his match-winning knock, his Champions Trophy call up and why he can’t wait to get back to the India Blues.

Unbeaten in a match-winning knock, taking Sunrisers yet another step closer to the Qualifiers. Should be a satisfying feeling?

It is a great feeling to play a match-winning knock. I really enjoyed my batting and I believe I played with a lot of maturity and responsibility. I knew David Warner had got out and Yuvraj Singh was injured. The onus was on me to take the team through and I am happy I finished the game for the team. The partnership between Henriques and myself was really important and I guess we won it because of that.

You are an attacking batsman, but tonight it was a calm and composed innings. What are the kind of changes you had to make during your knock?

I had to change my game a bit. I decided to negate the risk factor in the first six overs. Usually it is Warner and me who accelerate from both ends and cash in on the powerplay. But after Warner’s dismissal I had to cut down on shots and make sure I didn’t give away my wicket. We knew the target was not that daunting and we could catch up later. So I played along and picked runs according to the merit of the ball. I am an attacking batsman but it wasn’t difficult to change my mindset and get into a less attacking game mode. I am used to it and I believe I have attained that control over my game with time and age. I know what needs to be done under a given situation.

You have not enjoyed a great run in Test matches, but is it different when you play the white ball? How difficult is to put those Test performances behind and focus on the shorter formats?

I know I didn’t have a great Test season, but going into the IPL I was relaxed. I didn’t want to chase a tournament and play and work towards it. I knew I was doing my process well even when I wasn’t going through the best of times in Tests. I have not been amongst the runs for a long time now but I can’t let such things affect me. My hard work, dedication and love towards the game never diminished and I persisted with my processes. I was in good touch getting into the IPL with some good scores in the Deodhar Trophy and that gave me confidence going into the IPL. When the IPL started, I did get some decent scores and I wanted to stretch that good form going forward. I want this patch to continue going into the Champions Trophy as well.

You were named in the squad for the Champions Trophy. Obviously good to be back playing in national colours?

I was obviously happy to see my name in the India squad for the Champions Trophy but more than that I felt it was a reward for my performances in the shorter formats and in the ongoing IPL. If I keep performing well, I believe those performances won’t be ignored. I want to perform and keep playing for India as long as I can. I am pumped up to play the Champions Trophy. I have some good memories of the tournament and I had a great one the last time we played there. But as of now I want to focus on the IPL and then switch to the preparations for the Champions Trophy. We will try to bring home the Champions Trophy.