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'Viru has told me to play my natural game'

Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan is all set to make his Test debut for India at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday. Ashutosh Sharma writes.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2013 02:08 IST
Ashutosh Sharma
Ashutosh Sharma
Hindustan Times

Delhi opener Shikhar Dhawan is all set to make his Test debut for India at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday. It was always going to be a tossup between the 27-year-old Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane for the other openers' slot after Murali Vijay sealed his spot with a 167-run innings in Hyderabad.

And, perhaps, what clinched the deal for Dhawan was the right-left combination, which the Indian think-tank decided to go with.

Although the wait got longer for Rahane, for Dhawan it will be an opportunity to not only fill in the big boots of Delhi teammates, Virender Shewag - dropped for the last two Test of the ongoing series - and Gautam Gambhir, but also to erase the memories of the woeful tour of the West Indies in 2011.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then and the batsman, who has averaged 51.22 this domestic season, said he was delighted with the news.

"I came to know about it this morning when coach, Duncan Fletcher, and skipper, MS Dhoni, told me. I have played with Vijay before in the Irani Trophy and in other domestic tournaments. So, the comfort level is there. Besides, I feel I am ready for the next step and will give my 100%," said Dhawan.

It has been a long struggle for Dhawan since his first-class debut in 2004. The batsman has hardly ever missed scoring big in domestic cricket, but with Sehwag and Gambhir around, all he could do was wait for his time.

"They (Viru and Gauti) have done so well for the team, and it didn't happen overnight. The way I see it is that, hopefully, we are also able to match their performance," said Dhawan.

Dhawan has been consistent and in prime form this season - his unbeaten 110 against England in a warm-up game was followed by a well-complied 63 in Irani Trophy.

"As you grow and play more matches, you mature as a player. You learn from your mistakes and learn new things watching senior players like Sachin prepare for a big match. I am lucky I have got a break after such a rich experience of playing domestic circuit. I also spoke to Viru about when he made his debut. I was nervous, but he told me to play my natural game," he said.

First Published: Mar 13, 2013 23:05 IST