Opener Shikhar Dhawan admitted that the presence of Hardik Pandya does bring a balance to the Indian limited overs setup. “The balance that Hardik (Pandya) creates when he’s in the team is very crucial for our team,” he said. Pandya, who was to return to the national setup during the ongoing ODI series against Australia after recovering from an injury he suffered during the Asia Cup, has been suspended due to his comments on a popular television show.
The absence of a part-timer or all-rounder in the top six was felt when India were unable to reign in Australia during the middle overs in the second ODI. Ambati Rayudu bowled in the first ODI but his action was called illegal by the match officials. Dhawan said that even someone like Kedar Jadhav is beneficial. “Even when Kedar (Jadhav) plays, the overs of off-spin he bowls are very beneficial for us…I would say he is our golden arm, and he always takes wickets when he comes on. So often, he’s broken a big partnership. An all-rounder in Tests and limited-overs’ cricket is equally important,” he said.
He also backed Khaleel Ahmed and Mohammed Siraj to eventually come good. The pair have been rather ineffective so far in the series. “It’s not a worry (about the bowling). They just came in. They are young blokes. We will back them. That’s how they’re going to learn, when they play against a good side,” he said. “If they go for runs, that’s where they have to lift themselves up and think more about their game and strategies. That’s how they’ll become more mature players. It’s good that they are getting chances over here,” he added.
Dhawan said that winning the series would mean a lot to the Indian team. “Winning the series will mean a lot to us. Winning both Tests and if we win tomorrow, it is going to be a big achievement for us. We are going to value it and cherish it,” he said.
He also said that Dhoni’s performance in the second match augurs well for the team. “It was good to see a good team performance in the last game, especially how Dhoni performed well in both the games. We are very happy that Dhoni is getting his touch back. Because a player of his stature, gives so much of confidence to the batsmen at the other end,” he said.
“The good thing is we have got all fit players and very mature players, very experienced. That makes us a very strong batting unit. And of course we have been performing very well and consistently over the past few years.”
Dhawan said that the break he got during the Test series was good for him considering the looming World Cup. “I had 5-6 weeks off and I was training hard. It was good because, looking forward to the World Cup, it was a good break for me. Now I’m happy to be back in the side, playing matches and raring to go. I think my rhythm is there, the way I was hitting the ball. It is very important to take a break and feel fresh, which we Indian cricketers don’t get much of, so we’re not used to it,” he said.
Dhawan is yet to make a big total in the series but his opening partner Rohit Sharma got a century in the first match that India lost. “Batting with Rohit, it’s normal, comfortable and we both know what to do and what not to. Not much discussion is needed. We play on automatic mode and keep having fun with each other. There is a sense of calmness and peace,” he said.
Dhawan also said that despite being a good side, Australia are missing David Warner and Steve Smith. “Australia have a good all-round side, they have a good balanced side. Of course the presence of Smith and Warner is missing in this side. They are legends of their country and big players in the cricket world,” he said.