After struggling for so long, Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan is finally getting into form. The left-hander’s bat remained silent in the World T20. He struggled to score runs in the initial phase of IPL but has now scored a couple of half-centuries in the last three matches.
The southpaw said that he has made some “strategic adjustments” to his game and is hoping to be more consistent. During an exclusive chat with TOI, Dhawan also spoke about how he has learnt to cope with difficult times, his friendship with Virat Kohli, and his expectations going into a long season of Test cricket after the IPL.
You had a great Asia Cup final, but your form dipped a bit in the World T20. What exactly went wrong and how are you addressing it?
It’s true that I wasn’t as consistent as I should have been, but I don’t think there was anything specific that went wrong.The demands of T20 cricket are such that you have to go for the bowling right from the beginning and that sometimes brings about your downfall. I don’t think it’s a technical flaw, there were a few strategic adjustments that needed to be done and I have tried to do it.
What strategic adjustment are you talking about?
I am just giving myself a little more time and trying not to take unnecessary risks. And in the few years of international cricket I have played, I have seen highs and lows and have tried to learn from those. I feel this was one such phase and I have learnt my lessons and trying to get better.
Have you set a goal for yourself going forward?
Yes, my aim is to be more consistent. I won’t say I have played poorly, but I believe that there is scope for improvement. I want to go to another level as a batsman and for that, consistency is required.
You have a fantastic opening partner in David Warner in your IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad. Both of you are attacking batsmen. Can you talk about how the two of you go about your job?
It’s fun batting with him. Yes, we have similar styles and when he is at his attacking best, I am happy to play second fiddle and vice versa. We do keep talking about our games and look to learn from each other. But both me and Warner are at that stage of our careers where we know what is suitable for us. Something that goes brilliantly with his batting might not suit me, so it’s not about getting influenced by each other’s style.
With an underperforming middle-order, is the pressure a little too much on you and Warner in IPL?
I don’t think so. The middle-order is coming good more often than not. Eoin Morgan played well the other day, somebody else comes up with an impressive performance on another occasion. The team has started to play well and I hope we will do well in the tournament.
Two of your bowlers, Mustafizur Rahman, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are bowling exceptionally well …
You’re right. It’s almost impossible to read Mustafizur’s cutter. He has a brilliant yorker as well and he really looks a great prospect for the future. Bhuvi, too, has been very consistent, hitting the right lengths and making it difficult for the batsmen.
India’s Test captain Virat Kohli is your friend.How do you see his success and do you take inspiration from his performances?
It’s Virat’s self-belief. He has been there for eight years in international cricket and he is bringing his experience into play. The way he played in the World T20 and now in the IPL, it’s evident that he is super-confident. Yes, we are very good friends -he is a fitness freak, just like me, and the two of us often work out together at the gym.We know each other’s games well and it’s more of a give-and-take, where he points out certain things about my game and I do the same.
There’s a long season of Test cricket ahead, after the IPL. The competition will be tough for the opener’s slot. How difficult is it for you to shuttle between formats?
It is not easy if you are going straight from T20s to Tests. If you are playing T20 cricket for a while, your muscle memory will make you play certain shots that you would probably avoid in Test cricket. But I think we have a bit of time before we go to West Indies. So I will keep the conditions in West Indies in mind and prepare.
Your wife was recently seen cheering you from the stands. How important is the role of family to keep you stable in such a competitive world?
You know there’s a saying, `happy wife, happy life’. The family has a big influence on me, my daughters, my son and of course my wife, they are always there for me to keep me going through the good and bad times.
What do you expect from your association with PMG?
I am happy that they have signed me -they are senior players in the market and I am sure it will be a long and fruitful association.