Shikhar Dhawan will once again don the captain’s hat as India will take on New Zealand in the first of the three ODIs in Auckland on November 25. India has already won the T20I series under the leadership of Hardik Pandya.
Dhawan is coming off an ODI series win at home over South Africa in which the Men in Blue were without all of their first-choice players, yet they managed to win the series 2-1. This will boost their confidence against New Zealand, where they had last lost the ODI series 0-3 in 2020.
Ahead of the opening contest on Friday, Dhawan spoke to reporters where he said that he was asked about how he felt when he was removed as the captain of the Zimbabwe series at the last minute and replaced by KL Rahul.
KL Rahul was making his comeback after the sports hernia surgery and needed game time before the Asia Cup, resulting in him going to Zimbabwe and leading the side to a 3-0 series win.
“If I talk about the Zimbabwe tour, KL Rahul is the vice-captain of our main team, when he came back, I was mindful of the fact that he had to go to Asia Cup. If Rohit had gotten injured during Asia Cup, then KL might have been asked to lead. So it was better that he had the practice during the Zimbabwe tour,” Dhawan said at the pre-match press conference.
“I was not hurt. I feel that whatever happens, happens for the best. I was then selected as the captain for the South Africa series, the selectors and the team management gave me that opportunity. I never feel bad,” he added.
Looking ahead at the series against the Kiwis he said, “I consider myself fortunate that I am getting an opportunity to lead the side at this stage of my career. I feel good about it and it is a challenge. We have won good series with a young side. To play good cricket and win the series, that’s what we are looking for.”
“Of course it’s good exposure for the young boys, to do well in New Zealand, and test their skills. It’s been raining as well, and the ball has been moving so it’s a good opportunity for us to show our skills. This preparation is all about the World Cup,” he added.
Though he is now limited to playing the ODIs only, Dhawan is optimistic about his future and revealed how he stays motivated and prepared for one format.
He said: “I see it as a blessing because when I get time off I stay fresher, stronger. When I was playing three formats, there was much more cricket. Now of course we have lots of players in different formats. It’s a challenge as well but I ensure to keep myself in that groove. Whenever I enter, I have to be at the pace of the team. Otherwise, I will be left behind.”
(Indian Express inputs)