The pressure of playing for the country across all formats can bog down the best, but it is the ones who seem to be genuinely enjoying this challenge come across as the most admirable ones.
Shikhar Dhawan is one such lovable cricketer in Indian cricket. Shikhar seems to be actually exemplifying how to play the sport. He isn't perfect at what he does, in fact, he is far from it, but he knows how invaluable a virtue hard work is as it often triumphs talent.
Recently in an interview given to TOI, Shikhar Dhawan was heard saying about his recent experience of playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, that "It was good. We lost our captain (David Warner) before the tournament began. Then Kane Williamson came along and he had a wonderful season. He’s a good captain. I had a good season too. We played in the final, though the result didn’t go our way. Overall, we played good cricket and enjoyed the season"
"Of course, it was a huge setback to lose Warner. He’s such a big player. My name was being discussed by people about captaincy, but the (SRH) management thought that Kane was the right choice. That’s normal. Williamson is an experienced captain. He’s calm, and took the team along, like a family. He’s amazing, and he led from the front"
Shikhar will now be coming across Rashid Khan as an opponent when he plays Afghanistan in the upcoming Test match. He talked about it by stating, "When I played him for the first time, I found him tough to deal with. However, now I’m used to playing him. If I play (in the XI), it’ll be a good challenge to play against him. I’ll look forward to scoring runs off him!"
Shikhar also understands the competition that he has to go through, for the opening slot, especially in Test cricket. "There’s always pressure. There’s pressure to retain your spot in every team. It’s a good thing for Indian cricket that there’s so much competition (for the opening slot). All three of us (Murli Vijay, KL Rahul and him) are experienced. Rahul has done so well in the IPL, and in the (Test) series against Australia before that"
When asked about India's and his chances of resurrecting their pride in overseas conditions, as they approach a tough Test tour of England this summer. Dhawan said, "Yes, our team is experienced. Our bowlers are fit. Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) has been rested for the Test against Afghanistan, so he’ll be fresh for England. We have other quality bowlers too. So, our bowling and batting both are good. Of course, the English wickets offer a different challenge. The faster we adapt to English conditions, the better it will be. We have to be good in all the departments, and that includes slip catching as well. England is a formidable side at home. We’ve to play exceptional cricket to beat them"
"The tour(last time) wasn’t great, but I learnt a lot from that. Now, I’m going to play in England after four years. I’ve gained a lot of experience in this period. I’m a better player than what I was the first time. I’m confident that this time, I’ll do well by the grace of God. Hopefully, things will go my way."
Shikhar has been an outstanding limited overs cricket asset for India, but he has a Test record that needs improvement. Good thing is that he knows it, "See, I am a big believer in process. I have the same attitude even if I play here, or in an ICC tournament. Naturally, my records have been good in ICC events, but it’s not like that I play there with a different attitude. I play with the same attitude, the same way, whether I play in the IPL or the Ranji Trophy or for the Indian team"
"It’s not that my Test record is bad presently. I have an average of 42, and I’ve played Tests consistently for the last four-five years. I hope in my journey ahead from here, I improve my Test record. According to me, an average of 42 is also good. Maybe, it isn’t for you! In the ODIs, my average is 44-45, so 42 is good. Till now, I have played only 20-30 Tests, so it takes time. Everything takes time. Of course, I could have done well. I did my best. Sometimes it worked for me, sometimes it didn’t. Now with more experience, I am sure that things are going to go my way more"
Shikhar is not the kind of person who lives in the future, he pleasantly enjoys his present but when asked about his future endeavours. He said, "Nothing as such. There’s a lot of cricket left in me now. I want to do better and better for me, and for the country. I want to keep playing for as long as I can because I made it to the Indian team late in my career. I still have that passion within me. I know I can achieve a lot more. I want to make up for that lost time. Meri bhook abhi baaki hai (I’m still hungry for more success)"