Shikhar: No extra pressure

Sachin Tendulkar during a practice session in Mohali, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Our Special Correspondent

Mohali: Till a couple of seasons ago, Shikhar Dhawan could be described as a batsman not doing justice to his talent. On several occasions, the Delhi opener would settle down only to get out playing avoidable strokes.

But the Dhawan of today is one with a totally different approach. Though never shy of punishing a poor delivery, he is now a more patient and matured batsman and plays according to the needs of the team.

On Thursday, Dhawan is set to make his Test debut here and said he was looking forward to doing justice to his selection.

"I was told about my debut by the coach and captain yesterday night (Tuesday)," said Dhawan. "I was naturally excited. I called my family members. They, too, were happy.

"It was my dream to play Test cricket. Finally, I have achieved my dream. Hopefully, I will be able to do well," Dhawan said.

"Batting in Ranji Trophy is also a challenge. It does make you tough, especially after playing a few years when the opposition knows your weakness and starts testing your patience. The same could be applied to Tests," he added.

After Virender Sehwag's exclusion from the remaining two Tests, the choice was between Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane for the vacant opener's spot.

Dhawan got the call up to step in to Sehwag's shoes but the Delhi batsman says that he is under no pressure.

"I know we (Murali Vijay, the other opener) are relatively new here. Gauti (Gautam) and Virubhai (Sehwag) are legends in their own right. They have been playing for a long time and have established themselves.

"I hope that we too can play for a long time and establish ourselves in the Indian team. Vijay and I have played together in many matches. We have a good understanding. I feel no extra pressure as I am prepared to take up the challenge," Dhawan said.

Dhawan, however, has taken a few tips from Sehwag and other senior Indian batsmen.

"I have spoken to Virubhai during the first two Test matches on batting at the Test level.

"I have also followed the batting style of all senior Indian batsmen, including Sachin Tendulkar. It was an enriching experience," he observed.

The Indian batsmen, Dhawan felt, would have to remain careful despite the absence of successful Australian bowler James Pattinson, who has been axed from the third Test on disciplinary grounds.

"They will miss Pattinson but Aussie fast bowlers always do well. One has to play well to quell the Australian attack," Dhawan commented.

Asked on Cheteshwar Pujara's fitness, Dhawan first said: "I don't know….you have to ask the physio." Later, after having a word with a team official, he however announced: "Pujara is fit to play."


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