Shikhar Dhawan (right) poses with a model at a promotional event in Mumbai © Hemant Padalkar/DNA
Shikhar Dhawan (right) poses with a model at a promotional event in Mumbai © Hemant Padalkar/DNA

 

By Adit Ganguly

 

With five One-Day International (ODI) centuries this year, Shikhar Dhawan has proven that his game is a perfect combination of style and substance. His stellar performances against Australia and the West Indies hold him in good stead as India travel to South Africa next week.

 

Ask him about the seaming and bouncy pitches in Johannesburg and Durban and the left-hander keeps calm twirls his moustache and replies: “It may be my first tour of South Africa with the Indian team, but let’s not forget that I learnt a lot during my stint there with the India ‘A’ team in August this year. Plus, having faced the likes of Mitchell Johnson in the Australia series and with foreign pacers participating in the IPL [Indian Premier League], our batting line-up is well-equipped to deal with the bouncy tracks there. We’re up for it against the Proteas.”

 

With India notching up their sixth straight ODI series win by beating the West Indies, Dhawan feels there couldn’t be a better time to face Graeme Smith & Co.

 

“The team chemistry and morale in the camp is sky-high. It takes some time to get used to foreign conditions but we shall play to our strengths. We’ve been playing series after series so it’s fine that we won’t be playing a practice game before the first ODI (in Johannesburg on December 5),” he says. India will play three ODIs and two Tests in South Africa.

 

Dhawan’s opening partner, Rohit Sharma, has also had a great year. “I’m immensely happy having Rohit at the other end. And with Virat (Kohli) to follow, our top order couldn’t be in better shape to play South Africa. The three of us have raised expectations with our performances in India. The South African challenge will be tough, but it will help us improve our game.”

 

Dhawan during India A’s tour of South Africa

 

15 – vs Australia A

 

85 – vs South Africa A

 

248 – vs South Africa A

 

62 – vs Australia A

 

11 – South Africa A (1st unofficial Test) match)

 

(Adit Ganguly is a sports journalist with DNA newspaper. He is a fast-food lover, movie buff and Chelsea fan. His Twitter handle is @aditganguly. The above article first appeared in DNA)