Two days ago, he was a flippant, garrulous young man, just another member of the side who could — and did, some feel — utter anything without worrying about the consequences. Today, Shikhar Dhawan is laconic and careful — perhaps a bit too much — and weighs every word he says. After all, he is now the captain of Delhi and authority does change people.
A leader, it is said, faces the music even when he does not like the tune. And Dhawan certainly didn’t like some of the questions thrown at him during this interview. Still, the 21-year-old took them calmly on the chin during a no-holds-barred chat with HT.
Excerpts from the interview
You’ve been handed the reins when Delhi is going through a tumultuous period. Are you up to the challenge?
It’s an honour to lead Delhi, something I never envisaged in my wildest dreams. As for whether I’m up to it or not, well, I love challenges and it is a massive challenge. I hope to live up to it and enjoy it.
Do you have any specific plans to extricate Delhi from the morass it has been wallowing in?
The immediate plan is, obviously, to play good cricket in the upcoming one-dayers. And for that, we -- the team management and I -- think that our fielding has to be top-notch. We’ll formulate match strategies before the games, so I can’t say much right now.
Some people perceive you as too impetuous and petulant to lead the team…
Whew! I don’t know why you think I’m short-tempered! Who says so? I am aggressive on the field and that’s about it, period.
With so many seniors in the side playing under you, the situation can be rather delicate…
I see it the other way: the more the seniors in the side, the more people I have for advice. All the seniors in the side are great friends and tremendous players. They have been very cooperative and I have been playing with them for the past three years. So there is no question of a clash of egos.
But there have been reports about you having differences with some of them...
It’s all nonsense. I don’t have any differences with anyone. On the contrary, every single one of them is a great friend.
People feel you’re too young to be the captain, and your devil-may-care attitude is reflected in your batting. As a captain, you have to be more level-headed.
Yeah, for sure. I have to be more responsible and I hope to be. I have captained before - the under-19s - and I hope that experience will put me in good stead. I’ll try to curb the impulsive streak in my batting.
It is a well-known fact that certain outside elements try to pressurise the team into making decisions of their choice. If faced with such a situation, how would you react?
So far, there has been no interference. And if it happens in the future, well, we’ll cross the bridge when we get to it.
As captain, you would be required to make some tough decisions…
There are 16 players in the team and a very able coach. The decisions would be collective as all of us have the good of Delhi in mind. And if a harsh decision needs to be taken, we’ll all discuss it.
Suppose a situation arises when you differ drastically with your coach?
(Gasps) It’s all hypothetical, no? So, no comments!
You were knocking on the Indian team’s door a season or two ago. Suddenly, you are nowhere in the reckoning. Where do you think you lost the way?
I have not been as consistent as I wanted to be. Like in this season, I scored a century in the first match and then got out after getting starts, which shouldn’t have happened. I hope to remedy that. I never really lost my way, though.
Would you be successful?
I have no reason to believe otherwise!