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ASIA CUP: Shikhar Dhawan Must Stay Focused

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It was around October 2013 that Indian selectors decided to make a call to think beyond the opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. This was the time when Shikhar Dhawan, a consistent performer at the domestic level was picked as an opener.

A belligerent debut Test match ton, man of the tournament in the Champions Trophy, a successful series against Australia; Shikhar Dhawan has now become an integral part of the Indian cricket team.

Shikhar is a naturally aggressive player. He has a huge variety of shots, and he’s never afraid of using them. After his initial rise in U19 Cricket World Cup, 2003-04, Shikhar was picked to play in the Ranji Trophy , for Delhi. In the first six years of his first-class year, Shikhar showed signs of a good player, but was never consistent. The problem with Shikhar during his early years was, the patchy nature of his batting. He was good in some parts and horrible in others. He was good, but not brilliant.

Shikhar’s transformation as a batsman came around 2009 (5 years after his debut), when he scored his first double hundred for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy. Shikhar changed his game from “predominantly an off-side player” to a batsman who could play all around the wicket. In 2010, Shikhar was picked for an India A tour of England, where he scored a lot of runs and showed his class. On the basis of this tour, Shikhar got his international call. In his debut match against Australia, Dhawan got out for a duck. Four more ODIs followed during India’s post-World Cup tour of the West Indies, and Shikhar just managed to stay in the picture with a help of a fifty. Shikhar’s international career didn’t start off really well, but because of Sehwag and Gambhir’s bad run, he was called again. And we all know what happened in his debut Test match.

His aggressive approach at the start of the innings has helped India in chasing big targets. Just like Virender Sehwag, Dhawan also has the ability to dominate the bowling attack and set the tempo for the middle-order. But, Dhawan is a batsman who, in the quest for domination, has a tendency to play loose shots. Once he gets going, it gets difficult for him calm down. After his transformation in 2009 Ranji season, he made some changes in his technique and was able to overcome these problems. But, since the tour of South Africa, Shikhar is once again, showing signs of a batsman who wants to do everything in the middle.

It is very important for Shikhar and India, that he adjusts quickly and carry on his good form before the Cricket World Cup 2015. It is critical that he takes his time and give the bowlers their due, and pull out his aggression later to dominate the bowling. In the series against South Africa and New Zealand, particularly in the ODIs, Dhawan got out playing loose shots. He was chasing deliveries that were away from his body, and he was also vulnerable against short-pitch bowling. Bad patches are inevitable in the game of cricket, but it’s critical that you work hard and adjust your game quickly.

Dhawan is a key member of the young Indian side, and his good form holds great importance. It’s true that each and every player’s form is important for a team, but there’s something special about Sikhar Dhawan– his X-factor. Like Virender Sehwag, he has the ability to instill fear in the minds of bowlers and opposition. Shikhar is someone who can lift the morale of the entire team just by playing an arrogant, powerful straight drive. For India’s success, it’s very crucial that he must carry on, and not lose his focus.

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