‘Wasn’t hurt’: Shikhar Dhawan reacts to being replaced by KL Rahul as India captain for Zimbabwe ODIs

Written by Mohan Sharma

Dhawan often comes into the picture only when senior players like Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli are rested. He was chosen captain for the tour of Zimbabwe but Rahul was given charge once he was medically cleared for the series. Such decisions can be demotivating but Dhawan chooses not to read too much into it.

“I wasn’t hurt. Because whatever happens, happens for the good. I got to captain in the series against South Africa. That too happened because of the selectors,” said Dhawan in the pre-match press conference in Auckland on Thursday. “I don’t feel bad if some things don’t go my way. That’s how I think.”

“I consider myself very fortunate that I am getting captaincy at this juncture of my career. It feels good to grab this challenge. We have won quite a few good series with a young team. With KL, since he is vice-captain in the main team, and since he was going to Asia Cup and if Rohit got injured, it’s better he gets to practise for it in Zimbabwe. That was the right thing to do.”

Once a regular in all three formats, Dhawan has been quietly phased out of Tests (he last played in 2018) and T20Is (July, 2021 was his last appearance, in the white-ball tour of Sri Lanka when the Test team was in England for the World Championship final) in favour of only ODIs. The white-ball top-order has been a quagmire for India for some time now but Dhawan is still in the reckoning partly because he is left-handed and partly because of the immense experience he brings at the top with Rohit Sharma in the past.

Dhawan however knows he has to keep performing to remain in the conversation. “I don’t take anything for granted. It’s good that it keeps me on my toes.” Given the paucity of ODIs in non-World Cup years, Dhawan stays off the grid more time these days but he is keen on letting that affect his mindset. “It totally depends on the individual,” said Dhawan when he was asked how difficult it is to stay motivated and prepared for one format. “I see it as a blessing because when I get time off I stay more fresh, stronger. When I was playing three formats, there was much more cricket. Now of course we have lots of players in different formats. It’s a challenge as well but I ensure to keep myself in that groove. Whenever I enter, I have to be at the pace of the team. Otherwise I will be left behind.”

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Mohan Sharma