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Shikhar Dhawan working ‘step by step’ towards cementing Indian cricket team spot

Shikhar Dhawan stroked his way to a 168-ball 190 — powering India to a total in excess of 600 — against Sri Lanka in the first Test match in Galle.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 01, 2017 11:51 IST
India vs Sri Lanka,Shikhar Dhawan,KL Rahul
Shikhar Dhawan scored a brilliant century against Sri Lanka in the first Test match in Galle.(REUTERS)

Shikhar Dhawan remained Indian cricket team’s preferred opener for a long time until a fracture in his thumb ruled him out of action, right at the start of the long home season of 2016-17. It was only the second Test out of the 13 that India were playing at home last season, and Dhawan subsequently missed the golden opportunity of garnering runs in favourable conditions.

In this period, Gautam Gambhir may have frittered away once again but the young KL Rahul took giant strides, so much so that he rapidly established himself as India’s preferred opener alongside Murali Vijay.

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The road back to reckoning in the Indian Test side was as tough as it could get, but a seasoned campaigner in Dhawan did not lose heart at all. Instead, he decided to serve a reminder to the selectors with his batting prowess in England during the ICC Champions Trophy — a tournament in which Dhawan bosses around like no one else. In the last two editions of the ‘mini World Cup’, Dhawan has plundered most runs among any batsmen in the world.

The 31-year-old batsman comes across as a more relaxed figure these days, concentrating on making himself better in his work. Most importantly, Dhawan realises how important it is to keep working ‘step by step’.

Even though this may come across as a regular social media post by a cricketer working out in the gym, but for Dhawan, this carries a great meaning.

Dhawan was set to spend time off the field for at least the first leg of India’s next assignment in Sri Lanka — a three-Test affair for which the Indian selectors had named Murali Vijay and KL Rahul for the opening pair.

But, an injury to Vijay opened comeback doors for Dhawan, and he pounced upon the opportunity with one of his best innings in Test cricket.

The left-handed explosive batsman smashed the Sri Lankan bowlers to a pulp in their backyard, becoming only the third in history after Sir Donald Bradman and Virender Sehwag to have scored more than a 100 runs in a session for the second time in career.

The first instance of Dhawan getting more than a hundred runs was on his Test debut at Mohali in 2012-13. He made 126 runs within one session at Galle.

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Dhawan stroked his way to a 168-ball 190 — powering India to a total in excess of 600 — and producing an innings that has created a healthy but a headache for Indian team management.

“It’s a massive headache but I guess it is a good one, you know,” said Virat Kohli post India’s win at Galle.

Indeed, it is a ‘massive headache’ for Kohli and management because now, as many as four openers are vying for the top two slots. Vijay should get a straight entry into the team whenever he is fit, and Rahul has recovered from his illness which prevented him to take part in the Galle Test.

Unfortunately, for Abhinav Mukund, who ‘deserved a century’ at Galle in Kohli’s opinion after being dismissed for 81, he may have to make way for a fit-again Rahul, who arguably has been the most consistent of them all.

First Published: Aug 01, 2017 11:44 IST