Shikhar Dhawan might have been dismissed for 187 on Sunday — adding just two runs to his overnight score of 185 — but as he walked off the field, he had just played one of the best knocks on debut in the history of Test cricket.
More than the runs scored, it was his calm attitude that has taken everyone by surprise. For all those who have followed Dhawan from an early age, he has always been destructive.
But the problem was that more often than not, his destructive nature cost him and his team than the opposition. Be it on zero or 99, he would end up playing the most bizarre shot at the most uncalled for moment and walk back to the dressing room, showing no signs of repentance.
But all that has changed over the last year and the man who Dhawan believes is responsible for this is the same man who he has replaced in the Indian team — Virender Sehwag.
If getting into the 15- member squad ahead of the first Test in place of the out- of- form Gautam Gambhir wasn’t bad enough, he is now part of the playing XI, because Sehwag was dropped by the selectors for the last two Test matches after a string of low scores.
Speaking to Mail Today before the start of the series, Dhawan said that he was really disappointed ahead of the domestic season at not having been able to make the jump from the domestic to the international level even though he had got quite a few opportunities in the ODI’s.
And that is when Sehwag came to his rescue.
“We were training at the start of the domestic season and that is when Viru bhai told me that I shouldn’t get overly worried. He said that all I needed to do was keep things simple and follow the basic principle of making hay when the sun shines. He told me that be it international cricket or domestic cricket, as a batsman it is all about that one false shot or one good delivery".
“So all he wanted me to do was keep scoring heavily when the going was good for me and not throw my wicket away — as I have often been guilty of in the past — playing a loose shot. He also told me from his own experience that once a batsman is out of form at the top level, it is very difficult to get back into the groove and I should not act recklessly,” he said. And Dhawan seems to have not only done exactly that, but also gone one better as he erased all the risky shots from his repertoire.
So much so that he didn’t use his signature shot — dancing down the track to loft the spinner back over his head — till he had reached 115. Speaking about the preparations that he had undergone after being named in the squad for the first two Test matches, Dhawan said: “ I didn’t do too many things, just fine tuned the basics. I batted against plastic balls on cement wickets as we all know the tendency of the Aussies to try and bounce Indian batsmen out.
“Also, I played against the wet Cosco ball in order to adjust to pace and bounce that would be expected from their bowlers. Lastly, I worked on my footwork to ensure that I wasn’t stuck on the backfoot. It all seems to have worked wonders for him as he has announced his arrival on the big stage by raising a tempest, but in his new calm attitude.
(This Interview was done before the start of the series)