Behind Shikhar Dhawan’s cheerful appearance hides an intensely “spiritual man” who has made peace with representing India in just one format. Dhawan is approaching his 37th birthday and has made a promise to himself. “Until the time I play for India I would like to be an asset and not an obligation,” Dhawan told PTI in an exclusive interaction after leading India to an ODI series win in the West Indies. From the start of 2020 until the end of the West Indies series, Dhawan has played 22 ODIs and scored 975 runs with 10 half-centuries, the highest by an Indian batter by distance.
“I’m a calm, mature person. The performance is a reflection of my experience,” Dhawan said when reminded of his phenomenal songs.
“My base was quite strong and I 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 and that helped me a lot,” he added at the time. he was further investigated. .
So what is the process for staying consistent in ODIs at a time when bilateral T20Is are taking precedence? By the way, is there also a significant gap between two series of 50 left? “I never let this feeling creep into my system that ‘Oh God I only play one format or I play an ODI series after a long time. Will my body respond well to the rigors of international cricket or not? Frankly, I don’t like being preoccupied with these thoughts,” the senior opener gave a glimpse into his thought process.
“I see it this way. When I play a format after a two-month or three-month hiatus, it always gives me a chance to stay fresh and compete fully fit, and with enough time to work on my game .” For Dhawan, it is important to appreciate what he has rather than criticize what he does not have.
“I always count my blessings and when I play one format for India I have to try to make the most of it and give it my all. I am a very positive person. You will not find a negative bone in my body,” He smiled.
Dhawan believes that his condition improves with age.
“I think now, at 36, I’m fitter than ever before and I’ve gotten better in terms of skills too. Gym sessions, skill sessions, running and yoga, these four things are core aspects of my training,” he added.
Lately, Dhawan has not been playing red ball cricket at first-class level and gets a lot of time outside the IPL where he can work on his game, something that has really helped him.
“When I’m not playing matches I train at my own academy in Gurgaon. That’s where I mainly do my netting sessions. I try to hire some quality net bowlers. Also in and around Gurgaon you have good facilities and many net bowlers ready to come bowling to you.”
“As a leader you have to get the best out of people with a smile”
Dhawan will soon lead India in a series in Zimbabwe, and is also likely to lead against South Africa at home in October when the first team heads to Australia for the T20 World Cup.
While fully understanding it’s an impromptu role, the veteran enjoys 155 ODIs with nearly 6,500 runs of every moment.
“As a leader, my first instinct is to follow a bowler’s plan. I ask them what the plan is and what exactly they would like in the field setup. At the highest level, everyone is a hardcore professional, who is there because they know their good job.” He only comes into the picture, with his plan B, when the bowlers have failed to carry out their plans.
“But yeah, if their plan doesn’t work, then of course there has to be a Plan ‘B’ and I have to get in the picture.
“If a bowler is hit before a few limits, he is definitely under pressure and that’s when the captain has to put an arm around his shoulder.
“But then politely nudge him that ‘Listen, your plan isn’t working, so why don’t you try my plan for a change?'” A captain only grows into a role over time if you understand the core principles of man management , so desperately needed at the elite level.
“As a leader, when you start communicating with players, over time you get a good sense of how they react to situations.
“No two players are the same and the way you interact with each one will be different too – with some you have to be a little flexible, with some you have to be a little more pushy. That’s the beauty of being a leader. love and get the best out of them.” Although he understands that he is more of a stand-in captain, Dhawan does communicate with his opening partner and regular skipper, Rohit Sharma, when the latter takes a break.
“Obviously I’m speaking to Rohit because he’s the key leader. So when it comes to continuity, you need to consult and consult with him. The team’s vision is paramount to all of us.”
“Had good communication with Rahul bhai”
Head coach Rahul Dravid is big on communication, something that has helped Dhawan express his ideas.
“It is always a two-way street between captain and coach, and the same is the case between me and Rahul bhai. Whatever decision is made, it is a collective decision,” he said.
“During meetings, each individual is given the freedom to express their opinion and once we have multiple opinions, we come together and decide what is best. This way you enable people to think and at the same time decide what is best is for the team.” he reasoned.
Setbacks and spiritualism
For Dhawan, “balance on and off the field” is very important, both in theory and in practice.
“I have been a balanced person all my life. If you look at my career, I played the U-19 World Cup in 2004, where I was the highest scorer. But then I had to wait nine years before I made my test debut ( 2013, Mohali),’ Dhawan recalled his years of waiting despite being a heavy scorer in domestic cricket.
“From junior India to Testcap, it took me almost a decade and it couldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been patient and stayed positive.” Over the past four years, he has learned to play the flute and even got a lot of attention on social media for his rendition of the Jagjit Singh classic ‘Hothon se chulotum, mera geet amar kar do’.
Playing the flute is a stress buster for him and practicing spiritualism after some personal setbacks has given his life new meaning.
“Also in my personal life I have seen ups and downs and I have been able to get through those hard times because of spirituality. I listen to the teachings of spiritual gurus like Shivani didi and Gaur Gopal Das. Listening to their teachings brings in a certain sense of calm in me,” he said.
He signed his philosophy of life.
“To have a blessed life, you must first have a blessed spirit.”