Shikhar Dhawan has a habit of scoring runs when he is under pressure. He is a big match player and has scored runs in Champions Trophy and World Cup. He had a lean series against South Africa at home and was not certain to retain his place.
Dhawan scored 84 crucial runs and thanked Captain Virat Kohli and Coach Anil Kumble for showing support and believing in his abilities. KL Rahul scored runs in the practice matches and was a contender for the opening slot.
“I feel it is important for any player if the captain and the coach are backing you and it gives a lot of confidence. That’s what matters and you also need to have self-belief that you can do that and it is a mixture of everything,” Dhawan told media persons after the first day’s play.
“Opening is the toughest job and you need a big heart for it, when facing the new ball on a new (fresh) wicket. Bowlers also bowl with full energy and as opener your technique should also be good because you have to leave a lot of balls and you need patience as well,” said Dhawan.
“The middle order needs it too but a new ball has its own challenge. Vijay got a good ball and it was a very quick ball. I was luckier in that sense as Gabriel was bowling really well,” he added.
The Delhi dasher couldn’t convert his 84 into a big hundred and was lbw against the run of play by leggie Bishoo.
“I felt disappointed that I got out especially when I was set and scoring runs. I had spent enough time out there in the middle and came so close to scoring a hundred,” he lamented.
“At the same time, I am happy that I started on a good note and would like to carry on my good performances in coming matches. I want to use the form I am in.”
Dhawan reined in his attacking instincts and saw of the new ball. Shannon Gabriel was bowling at a brisk pace and was troubling India’s batsmen. Along with Cheteshwar Pujara, the southpaw saw off the session adding 60 runs.
“I feel that in the first session the wicket was fresh and the bowling was very good. So I was respecting the good balls and knew that I cannot afford to take a chance because there was extra bounce on the wicket. So I was playing close to my body and was not in a hurry and relaxed at the crease. It helped me later in the innings in both my partnerships with Pujara and Virat,” Dhawan explained.
But the best phase of the day came when he put up 105 runs off 163 balls for the fourth wicket with Kohli. They looked very comfortable at the crease and runs came quickly for the duo, as West Indies looked bereft of ideas.
“He (Kohli) played a tremendous knock and continued scoring after his hundred. Hopefully he scores big runs and gets a double hundred. It feels good to bat with him and we were rotating the strike and scoring runs at a good pace. I feel that made a difference because we made the partnership very quickly. That is a good thing and it is always a pleasure to watch Virat, the way he times the ball,” said Dhawan.
Comparing the two partnerships, he said, “My partnership with Pujara was also important because the ball was new at that time and it was important to leave the balls outside the off-stump at that time. The middle-order got benefit of that because the ball was older and my partnership with Virat benefitted from that.
“We scored at good pace and it impacted the game. Virat has been batting really well which is not new.”
India lost the wickets of Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession. India surprisingly promoted Ravichandran Ashwin ahead of wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha and partnership between Kohli and Ashwin is growing and looking ominous. Knowing Kohli, he would like to score his maiden double century and take the game away from windies, who have struggled and looked very ordinary in bowling with very little penetration.
“We are in a good position especially because we are playing with only five batsmen. So we will want to bat as long as possible tomorrow and that will also tire them out. Good thing is that we have Virat well set and batting. Maybe he will score a double ton, or even a triple century,” Dhawan signed off.