Asianet NewsableAsianet Newsable

Shikhar Dhawan: 'I would like to be an asset for Team India, not a liability'

Shikhar Dhawan has successfully worked as a part-time captain and an opener for Team India. He has affirmed that he wants to be an asset for the side and not a liability.

Shikhar Dhawan: I would like to be an asset for Team India, not a liability-ayh
New Delhi, First Published Aug 9, 2022, 6:34 PM IST

While senior Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan happens to have a cheerful exterior, behind it lies an intensely "spiritual man" who has made peace while representing Team India in just a format, which currently happens to be the One-Day Internationals (ODIs). As he approached his 37th birthday, Dhawan pledged himself.

"Till the time I play for India, I would like to be an asset and not a liability," Dhawan was quoted as saying by PTI in an exclusive interaction. He led Team India to a 3-0 win in the three-match ODI series in West Indies a couple of weeks back. From the start of 2020 till the end of the Windies series, Dhawan has played 22 ODIs and scored 975 runs with ten half-centuries, the highest by an Indian by distance.

"I am a calm, mature person. The performance reflects my experience. My basics have been pretty strong, and I have put in a lot of work to improve my technique. Understanding a format is also very important. I understand the dynamics of the ODI format, which has helped me a lot," Dhawan said while recalling his brilliant numbers.

So, what is the process to remain consistent in ODIs when bilateral T20Is are gaining precedence? Besides, is there also a considerable gap between the two 50-over series? "I never let this feeling creep into my system that 'Oh God, I am playing only one format or an ODI series after a long time. Will my body respond well to the rigours of international cricket, or will it not?' I don't like entertaining these thoughts," reckoned Dhawan.


"I view it like this. If I play a format after two or three months, it always gives me a chance to remain fresh and come into battle fully fit, with enough time to work on my game," Dhawan continued. For Dhawan, it is critical to value what he has rather than ponder what he doesn't.

"I am always counting my blessings, and if I play one format for India, I should try to make the most of it and give it my all. I am a very positive person. You won't find a negative bone in my body," beamed Dhawan. From a fitness perspective, he feels that he is getting more reasonable with age.

"I think now, at 36, I am fitter than ever before and skill-wise, I have gotten better. Gym sessions, skill sessions, running and yoga, these four things are core aspects of my training," counted Dhawan. Dhawan hasn't played red-ball cricket at the First-Class level and does get a lot of time apart from the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he can work on his game, which has helped him.

"When I am not playing matches, I train at my academy in Gurgaon. I mostly do my net sessions there. I try and hire some quality net bowlers. Also, in and around Gurgaon, you have some good facilities and a lot of net bowlers who are ready to come and bowl to you," Dhawan persisted.

ALSO READ: Virat Kohli and others laud CWG 2022 Indian athletes - 'You have brought laurels to our country'

On leadership
Dhawan will soon lead India in an away series in Zimbabwe and is also likely to lead against South Africa in October, when the first team will be off to Australia for the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup. While he comprehends that it is a makeshift role, the veteran with 155 ODIs and nearly 6,500 runs appreciates every moment.

"As a leader, my first instinct is to follow a bowler's plan. I asked them what's the plan and what exactly they would want in the fielding set-up. At the highest level, everyone is a hardcore professional, who are there because they know their job well," affirmed Dhawan. He executes his plan B only when the bowlers have failed to direct their plans.

"But yes, if their plan doesn't work, there needs to be a Plan 'B' and me coming into the picture. If a bowler is hit for a few boundaries, he is bound to be under pressure. And that's when the captain needs to put an arm around his shoulder. But then also politely nudge him that 'listen, your plan isn't working, so why don't you try my plan for a change?'" Dhawan explained.

A captain grows into a role with time as one understands the core principles of man management, necessary at the elite level. "As a leader, when you start interacting with players, you get a fair idea of how they react to situations after a passage of time. No two players are the same, and how you handle each of them will also be different -- with some, you need to be slightly lenient. With some, you need to be a bit pushier. That's the beauty of a leader. You have to give them love and extract the best out of them," presented Dhawan.

ALSO READ: Twitter goes gaga over Ravi Shastri's 'billion dollar picture' with Mukesh Ambani, Sundar Pichai

While he understands that he is more of a stand-in captain, Dhawan does communicate with his opening partner and regular skipper, Rohit Sharma, especially when the latter is on a break. "I speak to Rohit as he is the main leader. So, you need to discuss and consult with him regarding continuity. Team's vision is paramount for all of us," he clarified.

Communication with Rahul Dravid
Head coach Rahul Dravid is big on communication, which has helped Dhawan express his ideas. "It's always a two-way street between captain and coach, and the same is the case between Rahul bhai and me. Whatever decision is taken is a collective one," he said.

"In meetings, every individual is free to express his opinion, and once we get multiple opinions, we come together and decide what's best. In this way, you empower people to think and at the same time decide what's best for the team," reasoned Dhawan.

ALSO READ: Windies explosive all-rounder Kieron Pollard achieves this massive T20 feat

Setbacks and spiritualism
For Dhawan, "balance on and off the field" is vital in theory and practice. "I have been a balanced person all my life. If you look at my career, I played in the U-19 World Cup in 2004, where I was the highest scorer. But then, I had to wait for nine years before I made my Test debut [2013, Mohali]," Dhawan recollected how he had to wait for years to earn the Team India call despite being a heavy scorer in domestic cricket.

"From junior India to Test cap, it took me almost a decade, and it couldn't have happened if I wouldn't have been patient and remained positive," remembered Dhawan. In the last four years, he has learnt to play the flute and, in fact, got a lot of traction on social media for his performance of the Jagjit Singh classic 'Hothon se chulo tum, mera geet amar kar do'.

Playing the flute is a stress-buster for Dhawan, and rehearsing spiritualism after facing some personal setbacks has given a new meaning to his life. "In my personal life, I have seen ups and downs and overcome those rough times because of spirituality. I listen to the teachings of spiritual gurus like Shivani didi and Gaur Gopal Das. Listening to their teachings brings me a certain sense of calmness," he conveyed. Dhawan concluded with his life's principles as he displayed, "To have a blessed life, you need to have a blessed mind first."

(With inputs from PTI)

Follow Us:
Download App:
  • android
  • ios