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Dhawan finally comes of age

india Updated: Jul 31, 2008 23:34 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
Hindustan Times
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It has, so far, been an annus mirabilis for Shikhar Dhawan.

If the IPL enhanced his reputation as a youngster with a lot of promise and potential, the just concluded Emerging Players' Tournament in Australia established the stylish southpaw as the one to look for in the future. Dhawan finished the tournament in Brisbane as India's highest run-scorer, scoring an impressive 334 runs at 66.8 in the six matches he played.

And though India didn't win the tournament, in fact they didn't even make it to the final, Dhawan, justifiably, has some very fond memories of his time Down Under.

"Australia was great fun. The wickets certainly helped me score the runs that I did," Dhawan says, almost attempting to trivialise his effort.

But scoring all those runs couldn't have been half as easy as Dhawan makes it sound like. Probe a little more, and he concedes.

"Initially, the wickets were pretty damp. Batting in the first few games wasn't easy at all. But once I got the hang of playing on those tracks, it became much easier."

That certainly seemed like the case as Dhawan grew in confidence with every game, his unbeaten 184 against South Africa undoubtedly being the high point of the tour.

Dhawan has always been a precocious talent. He burst on to the scene at the 2001 u-19 World Cup in Bangladesh, where he finished as the highest run-scorer. However, he could never sustain that kind of success in the domestic arena after that. Unquestionably talented and uniquely gifted, consistency was perhaps the one area where Dhawan needed to work on.

And that is exactly what Dhawan achieved last season. Be it the Ranji Trophy, the IPL or his other domestic commitments, Dhawan batted with purpose and rare composure.

"I worked on a lot of aspects in the off-season. And not all of it was mental conditioning," Dhawan says.

"My time at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) helped me a lot and I am very grateful to all the coaches there. I owe a lot to them," Dhawan, as honest as ever, says.

"They helped me work on my driving, transferring my body weight and a lot of other smaller things." So what does the new and improved Shikhar Dhawan expect from the future? Doesn't an India call-up ever cross his mind? "Well, honestly, I would be lying if I said I don't think of a possible call-up, but yes, at the moment all I want to do is play well. The results will follow."

The panache was always there; it's the poise that's made all the difference.