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Dhawan better off after South Africa 'setback'

ESPNcricinfo staff

March 11, 2014

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Shikhar Dhawan uppercuts Neil Wagner for six, New Zealand v India, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day, February 14, 2014
"Good time always flies really fast," says Shikhar Dhawan on completing a year with the Indian team © Getty Images
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Shikhar Dhawan in South Africa: four Test innings, 76 runs, a highest of 29. Dhawan in New Zealand: four innings, 215 runs, a century that nearly won India a lost match and a 98 that put them in a winning position. Dhawan believes the two performances are related to each other. The "setback" in South Africa, he has told ESPNcricinfo, made him introspect and work further on his batting, which bore results in New Zealand.

"From South Africa, when I didn't score that much, I analysed my game that as a batsman, or as an opener, what shots I have to play at the start or what shots I shouldn't play," Dhawan said. "Every pitch is different. We were playing in India a lot that time [just before going to South Africa]. Then when I went there, it was a setback. I wouldn't say a failure, but the setback helped me a lot to become a more mature player.

"Then I realised, 'Okay on these kinds of tracks I need to play these kind of shots. And I have to leave bouncers [alone] at the start because the bounce is different, and it is hard to keep the ball down.' That's what I did and brought those things into my practice. When I went to New Zealand that practice became my instinct, and that's how I scored big runs there."

It has now been a year since Dhawan's comeback into the Indian team resulted in a sensational debut-Test century. A late bloomer, the 28-year-old Dhawan has scored seven international centuries in this period. Only his friend and now team-mate Virat Kohli has scored more hundreds over the last 12 months. Time has simply flown for Dhawan.

"One year is over already," Dhawan said. "It went so quickly. Good time always flies really fast. I celebrated on my own, the first anniversary with the Indian team. It's a great feeling. We won so many series, and of course we saw a bit of down time too. But that's how it is. You see ups and downs both. It is a beautiful journey. I am happy that I have been contributing to my side. I want to keep doing that, I want to keep improving as a batsman, and keep winning matches and series for my side.

"I had a bit of a lean patch too. That lean patch made me stronger, and made me realise the areas I had to improve on. Made me a more mature player. That's the best thing. It is a beautiful thing that I scored a lot of centuries and half-centuries. That's every batsman's dream: to score a lot of centuries and become the main man for the team."

Dhawan had to wait in the wings because two other Delhi batsmen formed one of India's most prolific opening partnerships of all time. He is philosophical about that phase, and also knows there can be no room for complacency. "I scored seven centuries in domestic cricket when I came to the Test side," Dhawan said. "I always believed it is a race that never ends. When Gautam bhai [Gambhir] and Viru bhai [Sehwag] were playing, I was playing in Ranji. I always used to believe this race never ends. I should just keep performing well, and then my time will come. Then god blessed me with [a place in the] Indian team. I just focus on my game, whatever is in my hand - my hard work, my dedication, my commitment to my team - that's all I do. And keep learning day by day."

Not just at the top of the order, there has been a change of the batting guard through the whole Indian batting line-up. Dhawan is pleased with how the transition has gone ahead. "Every individual takes that responsibility," Dhawan said. "To be the main man. To take the responsibility to win the match for the team. We are youngsters, we are still learning a lot of cricket.

"It doesn't happen overnight. You have to spend time out there and play a lot of matches to get experience. We have been doing well as a young unit. We won a lot of series, we lost a few too, but I personally feel we are doing really well. Out of these young players, there are going to be lots of future legends."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Naresh28 on (March 13, 2014, 8:06 GMT)

@nampally - In a another blog, you commented on the selection of the playing eleven in the hands of captain and coach as a flawed move. I agree. Maybe a day before the game - captain,coach and selectors should have a tele-conference and make decisions on the playing eleven. Dhoni is quick to kill confidence especially in new/benched players and heaps on current players all the time. He should be encouraging competition by the players for slots and the AIM should be to have the best playing 11.

Posted by Naresh28 on (March 13, 2014, 7:54 GMT)

@neheer ahmed - You speak of the team not winning - that was purely to the bowlers not able to sustain after good periods. A big problem for team India. For India they will persist with Dhawan. Rohit Sharma - well this guy should be replaced, cause how many dropped catches, lazy - once when India was in a good position - first ball after tea and he was out. He will one day regret it as India has ample replacements in the batting department.

Posted by   on (March 13, 2014, 6:11 GMT)

Dhawan has turned it around after SA!!! Ohh please the team couldn't win a single match on that tour one hundred after a duck and a 98. gambhir wasn't given that many chances. Dhawan and rohit sharma have been over rated ever since the australians came to India and after that it has been all downhill . Even Rahane got a hundred in the test series there's no talk about that. With all due respect I don't see him and most of the current Indian players play the 2015 world cup.I'm not buying that he has turned it around

Posted by Nampally on (March 12, 2014, 20:08 GMT)

@Naresh28; Uttappa is only 28 & already has been an opening bat for nearly a decade. He was brought in when Gambhir & Sehwag were the openers & in form. His S/R in short format was just unbelievable. Now we have Rohit- a converted opener- not performing + Vijay, equally struggling. At the same time the Selectors appear to be lost for Choice. Here is Uttappa still scoring & winning matches. He is younger than Vijay or Dhawan. Why is he a Forgotten Man? For him the life in the big competition began at 18 but finished when he is still a force in local Cricket- I ask Why?

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 18:09 GMT)

@amilag: Just like SL's Mahela Jayawardena, Mathews and Thirimanne.

Posted by Mike_Tyson on (March 12, 2014, 12:52 GMT)

Jeez.. I am amazed at some people calling him a flat track bully. He has only had 2 away tours and people are judging him already! Give the lad a chance!

How many non SC batsman have fared well in the SC in their first tour? This constant hounding of SC batsman especially Indian one's is getting extremely boring.

Most non SC batsman regardless of how good they are past and present have been made to look like rabbits infront of headlights when playing in the SC on what I must say have not been dustbowls, just slow flat wickets.

Posted by Biso on (March 12, 2014, 12:05 GMT)

@Electric -Loco..Wap4: SD was terrorized by MJ in India? Which series are you talking about. He was hooking and pulling MJ all over the park. Do not talk out of your hat. His problem has been that he tried to play the horizontal bat shots too soon on pitches abroad which obviously led to his downfall. In NZ he stopped playing the pull and hook shots (which he plays instinctively), till he saw off the new ball, and that got him runs in tests.ODI's are different and SD has to find a way to play those shots sooner but not as soon as in the first few overs. Interestingly he played the horizontal bat shots very well in England during the champions trophy and did it well against all teams.

Posted by Gzero on (March 12, 2014, 11:49 GMT)

He has only 2 international tours under his belt & people are after him like wild dogs.

A lot of people here don't know how to handle plastic ball, & they say dhawan should retire. LOL.

Posted by   on (March 12, 2014, 11:40 GMT)

dont please make out too much from whatever we have seen in a period of 10 to 12 months all these batsmen have shown their potential in s/a in n/z and we have not been able to win because of our bowling so the need of the hour is to find two classy extreame pace indimidating bowlers to support mshamiwho has really done well and jadeja as an all round support has been good and then the results will be there to see for shikar heis a classy top order batsmen and a great player after virat he just need to work out playing in different conditions against lethal attacks

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