Shikhar Dhawan’s innings at Mohali is a great lesson for youngster waiting in the wings

Shikhar Dhawan scored a magnificent hundred on Test debut with near-perfect shot selection, decisive footwork and strokes that had both authority and grace © PTI

By Balvinder Singh Sandhu

It was very heartening to see Shikhar Dhawan score a magnificent hundred on Test debut with near-perfect shot selection, decisive footwork and strokes that had both authority and grace. He has proved my faith again, ‘that if one has the talent and work ethics of a professional, one will get at least one opportunity to excel. And the one who grabs that opportunity is the one who shows patience, resilience and persistence to pursue his goal with a disciplined lifestyle and that of mind’. Dhawan has those attributes. Hats off to him! His innings served as a great lesson for youngsters waiting in the wings.

Arrogance is a sign of supreme confidence in one’s ability — a la the great Vivian Richards. But it could also prove negative when one starts thinking when a player starts to think that the team needs him more than he needs the team. That is the first step to downfall.

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir are two high-quality players who still have lot of cricket left in them. But with Murali Vijay and Dhawan passing the searing examination of Test cricket with flying colours, both Sehwag and Gambhir will find it hard to regain their places in the team. Sandeep Patil and his fellow selectors have been spot-on with their bold decisions in giving opportunity to the right men at the right time, weeding out the complacent and the undisciplined  — qualities that affected the effectiveness of their talent in Test cricket.

Australia, like India, is also going through a transition stage. But I like the way the Australians play their cricket, even when they are down and out. What surprises me, however, is the quality of spinners that are playing in the current series; they are technically poor and lacking in skills. With all their over-structured coaching methods, they have failed to produce a quality spinner since the exit of Shane Warne. In their zeal to be the best it seems that they failed to understand that cricket has many variables. Over-planning, over-structured and presentation orientation stifles the creativity of thinking cricketers who are unable to relax mentally to internalize passively to get the answers for their problems posed by Indian spinners on turning pitches.  

It also surprises me is that their coaches are the most sought-after in India by the Indian Premier League (IPL) teams. Maybe be the colour of their skin looks better on TV, or their presentation written by professionals and presented by them are good to get the job, or maybe they are most willing to toe the line of the IPL owners. One thing is sure: they have good work ethics and are smart to understand that there is lot more butter on the bread in India then back home. There are many professional young coaches in India who I think can do the same job equally well, if not better. They have the coaching qualification, experience and understand the Indian psyche better.

Just as India needs real quickies and batters to adapt quickly to fast and bouncy pitches abroad to win matches, same is the case with Australia, England and South Africa when they tour India. They have to face the challenge of performing on turning pitches. England did it and was able to beat India in India.

The Mohali Test match on Day Three looks like heading for yet another Indian victory, unless Australia comes up with something special from getting rolled over. I appreciate and admire the Australian players for not moaning about turning tracks in India or issuing veiled threats through the media that they will hit back with chin music when India tour Australia.

The series is still around the halfway stage, but it’s quite clear that MS Dhoni has regained his hold on the reins of captaincy that had slipped from his grasp during England series.

(Balvinder Singh Sandhu played eight Tests and 22 ODIs. A crafty bowler who moved the ball both way, he was one of the heroes of the 1983 World Cup triumph. His delivery that bowled Gordon Greenidge, shouldering arms, in the epic final is etched in every Indian’s memory. He was an useful later-order batsman who scored 71, batting at No 9, on Test debut against Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Abdul Qadir and Iqbal Qasim, and in his fourth Test 68 against Michael Holding, Andy Roberts Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall. After retirement, he became one of the finest coaches in the country and now imparts his knowledge through his site http://www.balvindersinghsandhu.com)