Third pacer’s form not alarming: Shikhar Dhawan
Shikhar Dhawan (AFP Image)

India batsman Shikhar Dhawan feels the lack of wickets from India’s third pacer in the ODIs against Australia is not a cause of concern. In the first game, Khaleel Ahmed, operating as the third seam bowler, returned expensive figures of 0/55 from eight overs. Immediately replaced for the second game, Mohammed Siraj was even worse, leaking 76 runs from 10 overs without picking up a wicket.

With the World Cup being the prime focus, it is likely that once Jasprit Bumrah returns, Khaleel and Siraj may not feature in the Playing XI, but India would surely want to fine tune it considering the series is on the line Friday. Dhawan, however, feels it’s not something that has rung alarm bells in the Indian camp and that the two youngsters will only learn from this experience.

“It’s not a worry. They just came in; they’re young blokes. We back them and that’s how they’re going to learn, playing against a good side,” Dhawan said during the pre-match press conference. “If they go for runs, that’s when they lift themselves and think more about their game and strategies. That’s how they’re mature. It’s good that they are getting chances over here. It’s not a worry. It happens. Even in the last game, one bowler went for runs but we ended up chasing the total nicely. So it’s alright.”

As the series is levelled 1-1, one aspect that has been the biggest takeaway from India is MS Dhoni regaining his touch. The former India batsman, after going without a fifty in 14 innings, registered back-to-back half-centuries, and although Dhoni may no longer be the definitive force he once was, the 37-year-old is capable of seeing India through a chase, as witnessed on Tuesday. India’s top three has fired regularly in the last 12 months, and now to have Dhoni back among the runs is like a cherry on top.

“It was great to see a good team performance in the last game specially with Dhoni bhai performing well in both games and we were happy to see him getting his touch back,” Dhawan said. “A player of his stature and the way he plays the game – calmness – gives so much confidence to the batsmen at the other end. Even Dinesh played a great knock in the last game so the good thing is that we have fit and matured players. It makes us a strong batting unit.”

Dhawan provided India an explosive start in a chase of 299, scoring 32 off 28 but more importantly, he put on 47 with Rohit Sharma for the opening wicket. Having first opened the innings together during the 2013 Champions Trophy, Dhawan and Rohit have established themselves as one of the most destructive opening pairs in limited-overs cricket and went past 4000 ODI runs, overtaking Sachin Tendulkar-Virender Sehwag’s tally for runs by India openers in ODIs.

“It’s been so many years that I’ve been batting with Rohit that nothing he does surprises me anymore. It’s comfortable, and we work on an automatic mode where neither batsman speaks anything to the other. With him at the other end, there’s an assurance,” Dhawan said about his opening partner.

Speaking about the balance of the side, Dhawan stressed on the importance of the side. Hardik Pandya would have been India’s premier choice for that spot but him being suspended has forced Ravindra Jadeja to fill in. Kedar Jadhav is another option that Indian can bank on, especially for his knack of breaking partnerships as evident during the Asia Cup.

“When Hardik is in the team, it makes for a good balance in the team. Even when Kedar plays, the overs he bowls, those are crucial and beneficiary. Kedar is out golden arm, he’s broken so many partnerships. An allrounder is extremely crucial, be in any format,” Dhawan said.