Shikhar Dhawan loves playing the flute. It gives him a sense of calm. He has also embraced spirituality, which he believes has opened his eyes to a world of positivity.
“I learnt it through spirituality,” he said when asked on Tuesday how he has remained calm through the many highs and lows in his career. “You need to practice [having a calm mindset] just like you practice cricket.
“It’s something I try and pass on to the youngsters as well. As cricketers, we are all living our dream, and if you don’t live happily [despite that], what’s the point? It’s small things like these. I don’t try and let negativity seep in. I try to be positive always.”
It’s perhaps this mindset that allows Dhawan to accept circumstances easily. Just a one-format player internationally now, Dhawan said he “loves the 50-overs game” and is out to continue his good work from the Caribbean, where he led India to a 3-0 sweep. His 168 runs, including two half-centuries, made him the second-highest run-getter in the series after Shubman Gill.
Dhawan is returning to Zimbabwe after nine years. Coming back to Harare is bound to bring back happy memories – in the second ODI of that 2013 tour, he struck a match-winning 116. He hoped the upcoming series would bring even more runs on what he thought would be “great batting wickets”.
He was, however, clear that runs wouldn’t come easy. Zimbabwe’s recent run of form – they beat Bangladesh 2-1 earlier this month – should keep India on their toes. “It’s good they won against Bangladesh,” Dhawan said. “I’m sure they’re playing good cricket. It’s good for us, because it will keep us on our toes. We can’t take anything for granted or lightly. We’re here to perform against a good team. It’s always about the process.”
“It’s very good news that KL is back in the side. He’s one of the main players of the Indian team and with the Asia Cup coming up, it’s going to be a good outing for him. I’m sure he’ll gain a lot from this tour”
Dhawan admitted to not knowing much about the current Zimbabwe side, even though he acknowledged Sikandar Raza was a “good player who has been doing well for many years now”.
“We don’t play that much cricket [against each other], but we have all the data,” Dhawan said. “From there, we find out the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. I guess that is where technology comes in handy. In one game, you get to know the patterns pretty quickly. Even before that we use technology to get going with our planning.”
Dhawan was happy to see KL Rahul back. Rahul took over the captaincy, which was initially handed to Dhawan, once his return from injury and illness was confirmed. Rahul will be returning to competitive cricket following a long rehabilitation for a sports hernia and then Covid-19.
“It’s very good news that KL is back in the side,” Dhawan said. “He’s one of the main players of the Indian team and with the Asia Cup coming up, it’s going to be a good outing for him. I’m sure he’ll gain a lot from this tour. It’s sad that Washington [Sundar] is out, it is part and parcel of sport. These things happen. Hope that he recovers soon.”
Dhawan was also pleased that the IPL has produced several options at the top of the order. The 16-man squad has as many as five opening options: Dhawan aside, there’s Rahul, Gill, Ishan Kishan, Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson.
“With more exposure, they’re quite confident,” Dhawan said of his younger colleagues. “Everyone’s different. They have good techniques. The transition for the Indian team has been great due to domestic cricket and IPL. Their confidence levels are high, that’s why they blend into international cricket quite quickly. They’ve been doing so well. We feel great that we’ve got so many options, so it’s a very healthy sign for us.”
Dhawan felt the upcoming three-match series was equally an opportunity for Zimbabwe to show their improvements as a team. “It’s good for world cricket that we’re playing each other,” he said. “It will give them confidence. Our young boys will get opportunities in different conditions. It’s only by playing that Zimbabwe will also get better, especially against quality sides. That’s how they will also learn.”