Shikhar Dhawan, the Sunrisers Hyderabad batsman, is back in India after having spent time with family in Melbourne, and expects to take the field in the IPL “very soon”, once he gets clearance from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. Tom Moody, the Sunrisers coach, tweeted, “we are hopeful it’s within the next 10 days.”
Dhawan has missed the first two weeks of the IPL as he’s recovering from a fracture he suffered on his hand during the Mohali Test against Australia last month. The game was his debut Test and he shot to fame with a dominating 187, the fastest by a debutant in Test history. Dhawan was ruled out for six weeks after sustaining the injury.
“Hopefully I will be able to take the field soon. After this trip [to Australia], I just have to get the clearance from NCA,” Dhawan told ESPNcricinfo. How soon will that be? “Soon, very soon,” he added, with a smile.
Dhawan had been tipped for success early in his career but had to wait many years to get an opportunity at the highest level. His ODI debut three years ago was forgettable. However, even with Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir having already cemented their place at the top of India’s batting order at the time, especially in Tests, Dhawan never gave up hope of breaking into the side.
“I never thought that way,” he said. “I love playing cricket so I was enjoying playing the game whether I played for Delhi or North Zone or even in the IPL, for that matter. All I told myself was I should keep on performing and my chance will come.
“By the grace of God, I got my chance and I could make it count. Even when it comes to [playing for] India, I got a chance [in ODIs] three years ago, so there was no way for me to let my hope fade. And I would think Gautam bhai and Viru bhai have been legends of Indian cricket. They have played for so long. [I thought] if I get an opportunity, I will also make it big.”
Dhawan’s sensational Test debut has also earned him a new nickname, Gabbar, based on a famous character in Sholay, one of Hindi cinema’s biggest blockbusters. “We keep playing pranks on the field and, once, I asked a team-mate, “kitne wicket bache hain, Thakur (How many wickets left, Thakur)”, so the nickname has stuck since then.”
Dhawan preferred to focus on the present but has an eye on the Champions Trophy later this year in England, an opportunity for him to improve his ODI record. He played down India’s biggest challenge of the year, the tour of South Africa, where India have never won a Test series. The presence of Dale Steyn in the Sunrisers camp could be an opportunity for Dhawan to learn a thing or two about Steyn’s bowling.
IPL, however, is not a homework exercise for Dhawan in preparation for the South Africa tour. “When I am playing the IPL, I would like to give my best for the franchise and not think much about anything else. Obviously the South Africa tour is a big tour. Once we get closer to it, we will start preparing accordingly. At the moment, I just want to focus on the IPL.”