You can sense the competitive edge Shikhar Dhawan carries to the crease these days. The Delhi opener, having had to wait for a long time to get an India cap, isn’t letting any opportunity go by. In his own words, the wait and resultant frustration has made him value every opportunity he gets.
After being rested for India ‘A’s game against Australia ‘A’ on Sunday, Shikhar was recalled on Monday, and he responded by smashing a 150-ball 248 - the second highest List A score - against South Africa ‘A’.
The ‘A’ tour to South Africa is being seen as preparation for many senior players ahead of the India tour to the country at the end of the year.
The double ton comes after his long-awaited Test debut, where he scored 187 vs Australia - his 85-ball hundred is the fastest by a Indian Test debutant. His recall to the India ODI side this year too has been replete with success - he is the top run-getter in ODIs for India this year.
Shikhar made 15 and 85 in the first two games of the ‘A’ tour.
“Now that he has the opportunity, he is making them count. He wants to convert those small starts into big scores,” says longtime coach Madan Sharma.
Fitness and a supple body were always his strength. Now, he has used yoga to get that mental edge.
“We have worked on focus, will power and the thought process. He is very strong physically. It was a question of channelising his strength and adding to his flexibility,” says yoga instructor Manoj Kumar, who has worked with him. Shikhar has practiced breathing exercises, sun salutations and balancing postures.
Says teammate Ishant Sharma, who was with him at the Champions Trophy where he had topped the run charts, “He was always a confident batsman. But now he has matured, is more calm and collected. He is getting runs and the more he gets, the better it is for him. Positivity is his biggest strength. But I felt, he is trying to stay in, dig deep. Besides, his feet movement and response is very good.”
The selectors know it’ll be tough to play in South Africa, but they may feel he is the most capable of succeeding there.