Pune: India opener Shikhar Dhawan said “I am also back in the picture,” after his fluent fifty in the third T20 International against Sri Lanka and insisted that zeroing in on the second opener is the team management’s “headache”.
With Dhawan back in form in the shortest format, the Indian team management and captain Virat Kohli will have the headache of picking from three in-form openers
— K L Rahul and Rohit Sharma being the other two. This really augurs well for the team ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.
With India vice-captain Rohit rested for the Sri Lanka series, Dhawan made optimum use of the two opportunities and made 32 in Indore and followed it up with a 52 in Pune on Friday night.
Asked about the race for the opener’s slot, Dhawan said, “All the three players (Rohit, KL and me) are doing well. Rohit had an excellent 2019. Rahul has been doing well for 1-2 months and he is a good player and ‘mei bhi picture mei aaya ga hu, maine bhi aaj acha kar diya hai’ (And I have also entered the fray and have done well today).
“Toh picture achihi ban rahi hai abhi (the picture is looking good), khair yeh sardaredi meri nahi hai (but this is not my headache). So I don’t think about it, because that thing is not in my hands. What is in my hands is to perform and play well.
“I am happy and satisfied that I got two opportunities and was able to express myself. Baki coaches aur captain ke upar hai, toh unki sardadi mei kyun lu? (Rest is on the coaches and the captain, then why should I take their headache),” Dhawan told reporters in the post-match conference on Friday night.
The swash-buckling Delhi batsman, however, feels being a left-hander augurs well for him.
“Absolutely, that (left-hander) is an advantage because it disturbs bowlers’ line and length and it has its own impact,” he said.
Dhawan returned to competitive cricket after recovering from a knee injury he sustained during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
He went through the grinds of domestic cricket, but the Delhi batsman maintained that making a comeback wasn’t that difficult.
“It wasn’t difficult (to come back) because I knew I was injured and out for a month. And I accepted that I got injured and I couldn’t do much about it. I was happy enjoying my time, doing my rehab and focused on training and got myself fitter and stronger,” Dhawan said.
“In the latter half, I prepared myself at the NCA, then played Ranji Trophy and did very well. I have a strong mindset, I prepared well and focused on my process and I am just going to go and express myself,” he added.
During his knock-on Friday night, Dhawan got a life on one but he said it was a difficult chance.
“I got dropped on 1. It was a very difficult catch because it went with pace and height as well. He (Dasun Shanaka) tried well. That’s how I think. I don’t think the other way,” he said.
On Friday evening, Dhawan played fearless cricket and took more risks by stepping out quite often.
“Yes, absolutely. That’s my job and we’ve to take advantage of the first six overs (powerplay). Whenever I thought, I can dominate the bowler, I go and do it. To step out or stand and deliver, I do it,” he said.
“Of course (Lasith) Malinga bowls really well against left-handers. He is very consistent with his inswinging yorkers and that’s why I changed my strategy right from ball one. I was attacking him as well, rotating the strike. He wasn’t giving me that many loose deliveries.”
Dhawan lavished praise on fast bowler Shardul Thakur for his batting skills. Thakur played an eight-ball 22-run cameo to help India cross the 200-run mark after being sent into bat on Friday.
“Yes, he (Shardul) is bowling well and the way be batted (on Friday) was amazing. The shots he played was tremendous and I feel he is becoming more into an all-rounder, especially in shorter formats.
“It is a big benefit for us and for him. I am happy for him and the team,” he said.
India won the three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka 2-0 after the first match was washed out in Guwahati without a ball being bowled.