'Calmer' Dhawan ready for Wellington
Shikhar Dhawan became only the fourth India opener to make a second-innings century and though the visitors lost the Auckland Test, Dhawan's performance was a definite positive. He admitted it was a crucial knock - he was quiet on his first overseas Test tour in South Africa and went for a duck in the first innings in Auckland - but added that these were early days in his international career.
"It was very important for me to get big scores and it boosted my confidence," Dhawan said. "When I started playing for India I scored centuries in England too (in the Champions Trophy). It is not that I did not score centuries overseas. This is my second (Test) series outside India. I have not played much of Test cricket for India. It has been a learning process for me. And I learn from my mistakes and analyse what I can do to become a better player. I have been working hard and got rewarded with a century so I am happy with that."
Dhawan attributed his success in Auckland to a change in mindset. "I was calmer and just thought to play as straight as possible," he said. "The wickets here are double-paced, especially with the short balls and all this stuff. I planned to play straight and just enjoy being at the wicket and enjoy my time over there. Their pacers have been bowling good line and length. You have to play straight and close to your body. The ball swings at the start. You don't get too many runs at the start. You have to be extra patient over here and once you get set you can get big runs."
The runs were not coming for Dhawan during the one-dayers, and he was left of the side for the fourth ODI in Hamilton. MS Dhoni had said that was done so that Dhawan could return with a clear mind and the batsman concurred the break had helped. "Whenever you get rest, it is good. You can sit and analyse what was going wrong. You are getting a break from the match pressure and you can think what you can do better. I was relaxed and I came back. So it was good."
Going into the Wellington Test, Dhawan asked for more leeway for his team with its inexperienced batting line-up. "We have been doing well. Unfortunately, we are ending up on the losing side. It is a new team, young players who have got five-six matches under their belt. Of course, it takes a bit of time. We fought back nicely in the last Test and we batted really nicely even in the last innings. There are a lot of positives to take from the last match and it is building our confidence and our strength."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo