Former India cricketer Mohammad Kaif showered rich praise on the veteran opener, Shikhar Dhawan, for his spectacular knock against Zimbabwe in the first ODI match in Harare on Thursday (August 18) as India thrashed the home side by 10 wickets and with more than 19 overs to spare.
Dhawan who has been out of the Test and T20I side for a long time played an innings of substance on Thursday scoring 81* off 113 balls while bringing up his 38th half-century.
However, Kaif believes that Dhawan is under a lot of pressure to produce the goods since a few subpar games could jeopardize his ODI future.
“Shikhar Dhawan, who does not play all the formats and plays this format only, ask him how important this inning is for him. Every inning is like a war for him because so many players are waiting, if he does badly, then he will be out from here as well. But the guy is not giving a chance," Kaif said on Sony Sports.
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Despite the pressure though, the southpaw is making a strong case for his position by putting on great performances consistently.
The 36-year-old, according to Kaif, has recently won games for his team by giving excellent performances at every chance he has had.
“He is scoring runs whenever he is given an opportunity. He has scored 6500 ODI runs, which is not an easy task, he has had a very long journey. He showed his ability, that he is ready and has come here not to survive but to score runs and win matches," he added.
He added that Dhawan underperformed during the England tour's ODI phase, but made a strong comeback in the West Indies series.
“He did not have a good ODI tour of England. But as soon as he reached West Indies, he scored runs in every match. The ups and downs will be there, there were times in between when he didn’t score runs, there was pressure, but he knows how to make a comeback," he remarked.
The veteran southpaw is satisfying all the conditions, according to the former cricket player turned commentator, and he has performed admirably when under pressure to present a strong case for himself to selectors.
“He is a touch player, he can play the big shots, but he is consistent. Shikhar knows that if he has to stay here, he has to score in every match. The selectors are giving opportunities to young players, so the pressure is always there on him. He played a very good knock today. Shikhar Dhawan is ticking all the boxes," Kaif said.
The 2nd ODI will be played on Saturday (August 20) at the same venue.
(SONY SPORTS INPUTS)