Australia in India 2012-13 February 11, 2013

'Mature' Dhawan looks to grab Test chance


Shikhar Dhawan, the left-hand opener, was told he had been picked in the India Test squad for the series against Australia shortly after the tea break during the just-concluded Irani Cup. He welcomed the news, he said, with a big smile, but knowing he was a slightly changed cricketer than he was when picked to represent India for the first time, more than two years ago in an ODI against Australia. "I've become more mature, my cricket sense has improved and that's helped my consistency level go up," he told ESPNcricinfo.

Dhawan last played for India in June 2011 - he averages 13.8 in five ODIs - and had a mixed domestic season in 2011-12, smashing a hundred at better than a run a ball in each innings of the Irani Cup before having a low-key Ranji Trophy during which he averaged 32.88 in 10 innings.

However, his performances this season have caught the selectors' eye. He scored a century in each of North Zone's two games in the Duleep Trophy, hit two hundreds and a fifty for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy at 51.22, scored a century against England XI in a warm-up limited-overs game and made a solid 63 in the first innings of the Irani Cup.

Though his skills haven't changed much in his time outside the Indian team, Dhawan said he has grown more determined to rectify any mistakes during batting or while at the nets. "I write down how I played, little details about the way I batted, the way I was feeling," he said. "As I practice for the longer forms, I make sure I leave a lot more in the nets, stay on the wicket, play close to my body, and try to hit shots to balls that are within reach. My mental strength has increased a lot."

While out of the Indian side, Dhawan, now 27, has seen cricketers younger than him - Virat Kohli, a Delhi team-mate, and Cheteshwar Pujara - establish themselves in the national team. He says he was never discouraged, and now could get an opportunity to become a regular himself. "I was sad for myself that I didn't make it because I always knew I had the potential."

Dhawan was bowled off an inside-edge in the first innings of the Irani Cup when he looked set for a three-figure score, and fell in the first over in the second innings, caught at mid-on while trying to pull. "I felt sad as a batsman, I had got in touch [in the first innings] and wanted to make it big [in the second]," but there was elation not long after. That duck was a rare lapse in a successful domestic first-class season, one that has ended for Dhawan receiving a call-up that every aspiring Indian cricketer longs for.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 14, 2013, 6:40 GMT

    I have seen this guy bat, can't play long innings, I would be surprised if he plays two sessions in any of test match he gets to play!!

  • Ashok on February 13, 2013, 21:43 GMT

    Congrats on selection into Squad, Shikhar. Hopefully Dhoni will not bench you, as is his customary punishment for all new comers.Pujara did his "term" on the Bench in his 3 ODI's vs. England.If he benches Pujara again he has no batting to play the Aussie bowlers. India needs to develop replacement batsmen after the departure of Dravid & Laxman & impending one of Tendulkar. The 3 guys I like to see are Pujara, Kohli & Tiwary. There are 6 contenders for 2 wide open slots due to Sehwag & Gambhir's awful batting during the past 18 months. So it is best to try out all 6 guys by rotation instead of benching them. It is futile to continue with Dhoni as the Test Captain after his 1-11 Test record & his total inability to develop players to fit into missing spots.He revels in dropping prospective young talented players like Rahul .S., Rahane, Tiwary. Now you never hear of Rahul- who might have given up Cricket after being benched about 20 times by MSD. Most Disappointing Selection committee!

  • karthik on February 13, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    @ MunafAhmed811 Absolutely spot on buddy! Liabilities Dhoni,Sehwag & Sachin must be kicked out..Rahane,Rohit & Rayudu must be given enough opportunities as they have the class and pedigree for tests.

  • karthik on February 13, 2013, 18:47 GMT

    So will Dhoni play him? Or will he go with his favorite Vijay ? Also will Dhoni stop being selfish and come up the order rather than hiding at no 7 after all damage is done?

  • Dummy4 on February 13, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    i think 11 players for india to open the first test should be v.sehwag,m.vijay,c.pujara,v.kholi,s.tendulkar,ms.dhoni,r.jadeja,r.ashwin,p.ojha,b.kumar,i.sharma

  • Ajit on February 13, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    Will be surprised if Dhawan gets into the Final-XI. There are 3 players everybody wants out - Vijay, Ashwin and Dinda. But Dhoni just keeps picking them again and again. So not just Dhawan, even Harbhajan and Bhuvaneshwar probably won't get a chance to play.

  • Dummy4 on February 12, 2013, 18:36 GMT

    For India to really become a top side they will have to come up with quick fast bowlers.Fast bowlers win you test matches,its as simple as that.No matter if they have the best batting line up,they need speedsters and quick bowlers

  • Munaf on February 12, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    Rohit , Rahane , Rayudu all 3 are quality test material and need to be in test team asa to partner Kohli , Pujara for top 5 slots. Dhoni and Sehwag and 10dulkar should all retire gracefully now from test match team

  • TR on February 12, 2013, 16:39 GMT

    I think it is worth if Dhoni will let Dhawan and Vijay open the innings and push Sehwag to 4-6. One it fulfils Sewag's wish and who knows he might make a great come back facing the old ball. His come back means India is guaranteed win. Two, it also helps evaluate the 2 openers quicker and in similar conditions. Of course this approach makes 2 out of the 3 middle bats Pujara/Rahane/Jadeja sit in the bench. But that is due to SRT holding his place.

  • Dummy4 on February 12, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    as i looked his playing style in past he nicks too many to keeper,bowled quite a few times ,poor international record to add to it is poor ranji this year. i don,t have high hopes from this guy. i would rather give young jiwanjot singh or experinced jaffar a chance.jiwanjot the highest scorer opener in ranji is worth taking risk as compare to dhawan,vijay or rahane.jaffar is 35 but in form & u cannot ignore form which most the indian don't have it now

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