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News

'Doing things together' key to the Shikhar Dhawan way

"Earlier, we had team dinners. Now, we do reels," India's stand-in captain says of creating a lively dressing-room atmosphere

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
22-Jul-2022
Shikhar Dhawan has already done on the West Indies tour something not many others can claim to have done - orchestrating a smash hit Instagram reel featuring head coach Rahul Dravid. It features most members of the squad currently in the Caribbean for the three ODIs beginning on Friday at Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain.
For Dhawan, "doing things together" and "sharing experiences" off the field are as important as winning on the field. In any case, India have had plenty of time to bond since much of their three-day build-up since their arrival has been hampered by rain, forcing them to train indoors.
"I'm very excited," Dhawan said ahead of the first ODI. "Whenever I get a chance to work with the youngsters, I feel I can share my experience with them. Everyone does skill work, but I like to speak about the mental aspect and bring an impact to their games."
Dhawan is on his second tour as full-time captain, having worked previously with Dravid on the tour of Sri Lanka last year. India's stand-in captain touched upon the importance of having a lively atmosphere in the dressing room.
"We have a great bond," he said. "We had been to Sri Lanka [last year] and bonded well there. There is an understanding, which is very good. I feel my energy and nature are such that we're all together. That liveliness within the group creates a good bond. There's always fun and games, and a lot of laughter. Earlier, we had team dinners and team activities. Now, we do reels too. If people are happy with it, it makes us happy (laughs)."
Dhawan made scores of 1, 9 and 31* in England. His failure in the last two ODIs, especially, coincided with India's top-order struggles, something Rohit Sharma, the full-time captain, touched upon as an area to work on, after India's 2-1 series win .
"People keep talking, I keep performing. If I listened to them, I wouldn't be here. I have the experience, so I'm not too worried. As long as I self-analyse and improve, nothing else matters."
Dhawan isn't concerned about the outside chatter on his form
Dhawan, however, wasn't concerned about his form or the chatter - from fans and media - of him being under any sort of pressure in the face of growing competition. In this group itself, India have a number of opening options - Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, and even Shubman Gill.
"I don't feel odd, I have heard it for 10 years," he laughed. "People keep talking, I keep performing. If I listened to them, I wouldn't be here. I have the experience, so I'm not too worried. As long as I self-analyse and improve, nothing else matters.
"I'm a very positive person. For me, positivity is about self-belief and the confidence you take in. I have that since I've been playing for so many years. I'm here because I've done some good things. That is the positivity I want to pass on to the youngsters.
"We want to create the kind of energy where we put faith in each other to ensure the result takes care of itself. There is pressure in international cricket, sure, but it's not the kind of pressure that will change my personality or style of play. I have a lot of belief in myself and the team."

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo