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India tour of South Africa 2013-14: Shikhar Dhawan confident of good show

Shikhar Dhawan scored a century in the last ODI of the West Indies series © IANS
Shikhar Dhawan scored a century in the last ODI of the West Indies series © IANS

Mumbai: Nov 29, 2013

In-form India opener Shikhar Dhawan is looking forward to play on the bouncy tracks during next month’s tour of South Africa and feels the conditions there are suitable to his aggressive style of batting.

“I personally feel the bouncy track suits my game. And we have been playing good cricket for a long time now and we are really confident. As a team we are gelling very nicely. All boys are confident, I am confident, too, about myself. I have been performing well and looking forward to extend that purple patch a long way,” Dhawan told reporters.

India are to start the tour with a best-of-three ODI series against the hosts starting December 5, which would be followed by a two-match Test rubber from December 18.

The left-handed Delhi batsman, who spoke on the sidelines of a promotional event, exuded confidence about the team performing and winning the series against the Proteas in their backyard.

“We are all very confident going into the South Africa series that we will do well. We did well in England. Even in the West Indies we did well and our aim will be do well in South Africa and win the series.”

A few months ago, Dhawan went to South Africa with the India ‘A’ team and scored a smashing 248 against South Africa ‘A’ in a List ‘A’ game. The 27-year old said that experience would stand him in good stead on the upcoming visit.

“I went to South Africa before (with India ‘A’). So you have the advantage of having played on these pitches and performed well. I can take confidence from that [as] the pitches there will be good.

“They have bouncy tracks which will be helpful for the bowlers and good for the batsmen. Our shots and preparation will be according to the pitch,” the left-hander said.

“I play according to the wicket. I assess the wicket and then play my game. Of course, I am a stroke player so I am going to play my shots and back myself, whatever strength I have and play my game.”

India would be playing their first Test series post Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement and Dhawan said the team would miss the batting legend’s presence in the dressing room.

“Sachin paaji was a great player and we will miss him in the side. His experience and presence in the dressing room was big for us.”

The dashing player was of the opinion that all the players picked for the tour are in form.

“The good thing is that all the batsmen are performing very well and the bowlers too and we got a great fielding side — that is a big bonus for us. I feel our team is very confident, and as a team we are gelling very nicely.”

Asked if he was doing some special preparation, Dhawan said the team has been playing continuously and there wasn’t time for preparation.

“We guys have been playing so much of cricket that we are totally into cricket. We don’t get much time for preparation like now we have got just three days off. I guess the boys need to take a bit of rest and get out of cricket mode for 2-3 days at least and then come back.”

“Before playing the main matches, we will have enough of time to prepare over there, on those pitches and get used to them,” he said.

The 27-year old said the Indian Premier League (IPL) has helped the country’s players to get used to international fast bowlers.

“I feel that all players in our side have benefited from the IPL because we got a chance to play against international bowlers. The nervousness when facing international bowlers is no longer there because we have already faced them in the IPL.

“When you perform against them (in the IPL) you get the confidence that if you can do well in the IPL against them you can do well when playing for India as well,” said the swashbuckling cricketer, who played for Sunrises Hyderabad in IPL-6.

Asked if he experienced mental blocks while batting in the 90s, he said, “I just try to play normally when in the 90s. I try to reduce the nervousness which you generally get in the 90s. I control myself and look to continue in the same way that I am playing and once you cross 100 all the nervousness goes away. So that’s what I try and do.

“I don’t let nervousness get the better of me. When you are on 94 you get thoughts to hit a six but you have to control that and continue playing. You have to play according to the situation of the match, and according to bowling.”

His opening partner in ODIs, Rohit Sharma, has also done extremely well in this current season and Dhawan said he is happy that the top order is providing a good platform to the middle-order batsmen.

“Rohit has been doing really great for India this season. Making a double century in one-dayers is one of the biggest things. He scored 4 centuries this season and two centuries in Test cricket. I am really happy for him.

“We all are very good friends and we enjoy each other’s success; that is the beauty of the team at the moment. I feel happy that he is doing well [and] I am doing well. Virat [Kohli] has been doing consistently well over two- three seasons, so I am really happy that the top order is firing and giving a good base to our batting line-up,” the Delhi dasher said.

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Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

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