Melbourne: Indian cricket's man of the moment Shikhar Dhawan, who mesmerised the MCG crowd with his 137-run match-winning knock against South Africa, said that staying calm during a lean patch was key to his success in the first two matches of the World Cup.
Dhawan, who had an ordinary ODI tri-series just before the 50-over showpiece event, struck form with his gutsy 73 in India's convincing win against Pakistan and then blazed to his seventh ODI ton to help India break the World Cup jinx against the Proteas. The left-handed opener was over the moon to score a ton against a top notch side.
Shikhar Dhawan. Pic/ AFP
"It is a fantastic feeling to get a 100 in your first World Cup. But more than anything it gives me immense happiness that we beat South Africa for the first time in the World Cup. They are one of the best teams in the world and it gives you great satisfaction to beat the big sides in the competition. To score against big teams makes the feeling even better," Dhawan was quoted as saying by bcci.tv after his team's 130-run win over Proteas yesterday.
Dhawan was dropped for the fourth and final Test against Australia and found the going tough in the tri-series matches against Australia and England. He is happy to be back in form. "It feels great to be back in form. I have been waiting for this moment for the past three months. I tried my best to stay calm during that phase. I never got afraid or troubled when runs were not coming off my bat. I always had the belief that the tough days will be followed by the good ones. It was important for me to stay mentally calm and stable at that time.
"I feel the calmness in my temperament has reflected in my batting and helped me get the results. I never felt I was not batting well during that phase. I was getting out in the 20s and 30s. Now, I am converting those starts into big knocks. I am glad that I am doing so at a big stage like the World Cup," said the stylish left-hander.
Dhawan, whose match-winning 114 against South Africa during the Champions Trophy in 2013 was much talked about, rates his recent knock better. "I would rate this century a notch higher than the one I got at Cardiff. Today I played with a lot of common sense. I put a lot of thought into my batting and I feel I have matured a lot since that knock. I feel I have a better understanding of the game now and I have learnt with time. I am sure my game will only get better from here."
India defied all odds to put up a great batting show against a potent bowling attack. Dhawan, who was involved in two 100 plus century stands with Virat Kohli (46) and Ajinkya Rahane (79) said that building partnerships was key. "We all know that South Africa has an experienced and solid pace attack. We didn't want to give them a wicket early on in the innings and we knew we could always accelerate later on in the innings if we didn't get the runs in the initial stages of the game. Being patient was important and we kept building partnerships regularly.
"Virat Kohli and I shared a century stand and I have to say Virat played beautifully. Once he got out, my aim again was to build a partnership with Ajinkya Rahane. There were phases when the game did go slow, but it was important for us to play that phase out with a lot of patience. Once Ajinkya got set he began to accelerate and got the tempo of the game up. It was an incredible innings by Ajinkya. We had an aim to build partnerships at every stage of the innings and we achieved that," added Dhawan.