In what would come as a change of plan for the Indian cricket team, Mahendra Singh Dhoni might captain the side in the opening Test against Australia as he has joined the squad well in time for the four-match series, which had to be rescheduled following Phillip Hughes’ death.
Dhoni, nursing a palm injury, was meant to take over from the second Test onwards, originally scheduled here from December 12.
But due to the rescheduling of the start of the series from December 4 (Brisbane) to December 9 (Adelaide), the regular captain could make the playing XI from the very beginning.
“Both are aggressive captains. But there is a certain difference. Virat is a lot more charged up on the field. It is enjoyable playing under both of them. It might be a longer wait for Virat to lead India in Test cricket since Dhoni is here now,” Dhawan said.
The focus is slowly shifting back to cricket after a week of emotional turmoil owing to Hughes’ death and Dhawan said he is looking forward to the challenge of facing Mitchell Johnson’s pace in the series.
“He is one of the best bowlers in the world. He has got good raw pace. But we have practised playing against such pace. Also, I have faced him a lot of times back in India in international matches and in the IPL. Yes, I will be facing him for the first time in Australia, so it is going to be a good challenge. Hopefully I will enjoy batting against him here,” said Dhawan in a press conference in Adelaide.
“I feel it is important to have an aggressive opening batsman. Not in Australia, but in today’s cricket in general.
It helps turn things around quickly for your team and helps gain momentum. I would love to play that role for my side and it will be very good for us if I can pull it off,” he added.
Dhawan had made his debut against Australia at Mohali in the 2013 home series. It was a special innings as he smacked the fastest Test century on debut and finished with 187 runs off 174 balls. Since then he has become a permanent fixture of the Indian Test XI but his form on away tours has been erratic.
He did well in New Zealand, but failed to impress in South Africa and England against better quality attacks. On that latter tour, he was also dropped after the third Test in favour of Gautam Gambhir.
“It is an important tour and all of us are looking forward to the first Test match. Australia is the best Test team in the world and it is always a great feeling to score against them. We have prepared well and looking forward to the match,” said Dhawan.
“I have always learnt a lot from my failures. It has made me a better player. I concentrate on the knowledge of my game that I possess and listen to my coaches, as well as analyse on the computers.
“I am always open to improving my game and I change my approach if I feel that an advice will work to the betterment of my game. But after that I don’t concentrate on what the experts are saying. It is their thinking and their point of view,” he added.
Australia is like a second home for Dhawan as his better half lives in Melbourne. The environment therefore isn’t too alien for him and he will be looking to take this in his stride and press on with scoring runs for the team.
“This is my first tour here for the Indian team,” said Dhawan. “But I have been here before with the India-A team and have played a lot of Emerging Trophy cricket. I have played a lot of cricket in Brisbane.”
“I live in Melbourne with my wife and kids so I keep on travelling here. That’s the bit I don’t like, travelling 13-14 hours to see my family because it’s too far from my country.
But otherwise I feel very comfortable here.
“I have some plans for my adopted home. The plan is clearly to do well and play some good cricket in good spirit.
As an opening batsman I want to give my team a good start and score runs. Our opening combinations haven’t worked overseas but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. I have a lot of hope and lot of opportunities to do well are coming ahead,” said the left-handed batsman.