The first six overs in a T20 game is considered the most crucial as both the batting and bowling team look to grab early advantage and with the World T20 in Australia less than a year away, India opener Shikhar Dhawan is very clear that for him it will be all about attacking from the word go Down Under.
Speaking to IANS, Dhawan said that even as every team and every individual is playing with an eye on the showpiece event, he doesn’t really have any special plan. All he wants to do is keep it simple and start on the attack before settling down and providing the middle order the perfect platform to finish with a flourish.
“The plan is to play a nice attacking game as an opener in the first six overs and build a good total. I like to play aggressive and if some wicket is slow or if the ball is stopping on it, then obviously the plan changes accordingly. If we can manage to get say 50-55 runs in the first six overs, then the momentum is there for a good finish. My job will be to primarily start well and then score big. Smart and attacking game is my mantra for the T20 format,” he smiled.
Asked if it will be about one between him and Rohit Sharma playing anchor as the other attacks, Dhawan answered in the negative.
“Play as per the situation. If some day Rohit is attacking and I am not being able to connect well, then that is different. But otherwise, I don’t believe that only one batsman can attack. If your game is to attack, then you must stay natural. Also, when you attack from both sides then the pressure is on the opposition,” he explained.
A big area of concern in recent times has been the amount of focus on the young Rishabh Pant and the India opener believes that it is all about staying away from the glare and focusing on the job at hand.
“I keep telling him that don’t see what is being said or written about you in the media. See, the point is that whatever you see or read will come into your mind. I don’t read any newspaper. I have trained myself that way because I know that if I have done well, they will write good things and if I don’t, they will write that. It is a journey. When I started, I also saw, but that is how you learn. Rishabh is a great talent and he will do really well in the long run,” he said.
While Indian teams over the years have been all about its batsmen, the current team has some of the best bowlers and Dhawan feels that is the reason why this team has won consistently both at home and on foreign soil.
“It is matter of tremendous pride that we have a team of bowlers who actually put the opposition batsmen on the backfoot. I feel the bowling line-up is one of the major reasons that we are winning consistently and also along with the pace bowling attack, we also have the experience to adapt. They train as professionals and know their job very well,” he explained.
While many look at India skipper Virat Kohli as the epitome when it comes to fitness, it all started with Dhawan discussing fitness with a young Kohli in the Delhi dressing room and also sharing protein shakes. Looking back, Dhawan is happy that from being a one-off, staying fit has now become a lifestyle.
“Fitness is very important and has become and a part of one’s daily routine. Credit to Virat that since he became the captain, he has ensured that the attention has remained towards fitness. I had started early and wanted to remain fit even when I was 16 or 17. That has helped me a lot. In the last decade, skill was given importance and fitness was more of a secondary thing, but things have changed now and the new kids know that they must be on the top of their fitness to be a part of the national team and the result is that the fielding of the side has improved,” he smiled.
While Dhawan is one of the first names when the playing XI for the limited-overs team is announced, lack of form has seen him miss the bus in the longer format. But Dhawan isn’t ready to give up and wants to return with a bang.
“Absolutely looking to get back. I am always on for Test cricket and when I get the opportunity (in domestic cricket) I will be playing. I will play Ranji Trophy when I am free. I will not sit at home. When I am not playing all the three formats, I will definitely play domestic cricket,” he said.
Asked if he regrets missing India’s maiden Day-Night Test, Dhawan said: “No regrets on missing out. Not there, so might as well accept it and move on. I have accepted it and am working hard to come back strongly.”
Signing off, Dhawan said that Team India will be one of the favourites to win the trophy come the World T20 next year.
“We are strong contenders. From now onwards we will play so many T20s that we will get refined and be ready for the World T20. I am sure that we will do really well there,” he said.