Shikhar Dhawan’s inclusion in the India team for the first two Tests against Australia (February 22 onwards) may have come as a surprise for many, but the southpaw’s Delhi Ranji Trophy team coach Vijay Dahiya was expecting it.
Dahiya, in fact, was quite relieved that Dhawan (27) was finally given the nod. Dhawan was yesterday drafted into the India squad in place of the struggling Gautam Gambhir.
“I don’t know why people are surprised at Dhawan’s inclusion. He has been rewarded for consistently performing well in the domestic matches. He has been around for quite some time and this is a perfect opportunity for him. In fact, I would say it has come a bit late in his career,” Dahiya told MiD DAY from New Delhi yesterday.
Dhawan was previously named skipper of the India ‘A’ team that will play a three-day warm-up tie against Australia from February 16. However, yesterday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that Gambhir will lead the side instead.
Dhawan scored 63 and 0 during the Irani Cup which concluded yesterday at the Wankhede Stadium.
Dhawan has scored 833 first-class runs this season, including four tons and three half-centuries. He started the season with consecutive centuries in the Duleep Trophy quarter-final and semi-final. He then scored 524 runs (two hundreds and two fifties) in eight Ranji Trophy matches for Delhi at an average of 47.63. During a warm-up match before the England ODIs, he impressed with a knock of 110.
However, his five ODIs and one T20International have been forgettable — given he aggregated just 69 on the one-dayers and scored five in the T20 match.
“He has been in the scheme of things as far as I know. He has captained the India ‘A’ team and the Board President’s XI as well. So, he has been very much in the reckoning. I am just happy that another Delhi player is getting an opportunity to play for India,” said Dahiya, who kept wickets for India in two Tests and 19 ODIs.
Known for his flamboyant style of batting, Dhawan’s patience will be tested during the Test series. But his India ‘A’ coach Lalchand Rajput is confident he will cope with the challenge. “He has this special quality of adapting to any format faster than other players. He has done exceedingly well this season and I have no doubt that he will adapt well to the challenges of Test cricket. He has matured now. He just needs to be a bit more cautious about his shot selection early in his innings,” said Rajput.