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It was only last month that Shikhar Dhawan announced himself to the world with a rampaging 187 against Australia – the fastest century on Test debut. The dream, however, was followed by instant frustration as he had to miss the next Test with a hand injury sustained while fielding.
Dhawan was out for close to six weeks, forcing him to sit out the first seven games of Sunrisers Hyderabad. The team missed him too, as they managed only one 150-plus total without him. Dhawan’s first game in IPL 2013 came against the Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk. And Dhawan defied the post-injury rustiness to smack a fluent 63 off 45 balls. Sunrisers managed 159.
Although the visitors lost by five wickets, Dhawan’s return to the side and the continuity of his form holds a huge promise for his team. After the match, the flamboyant opening batsman spoke to iplt20.com about how he planned his comeback and how he approaches a T20 game.
Did you really come from an injury layoff? It didn’t seem so from the way you batted?
Of course I came from an injury (laughs). But it was good to have a break. I got fresh and hungrier to bat again. Before coming into this match I was at the NCA (National Cricket Academy) for a weak to 10 days. I practised there and prepared for the match.
How did you approach this innings?
When I started batting in the nets I found that I had the same flow and rhythm that I felt during the Test. So, I just came in keeping in mind how to pace my innings and plan it. I worked on my skills in the nets and decided to plan the rest on the basis of the wicket and the bowling.
Do you change your game a lot going from one format to another? Your strike-rate on your Test debut didn’t say so.
I do change my game a lot. Yes, I did score the fastest century on Test debut but I didn’t plan to do so. It was a lucky day for me and it just happened. But generally when I am playing days of cricket I do go slow. I do prepare very differently for T20 format, mostly suiting to the demands of the game.
Given the form you were in when that injury happened, did the time on the sidelines test your patience a lot?
Yes, it did. I batted so well in my first Test and then to miss out on playing the second one was very tough. But I tend to see things in a positive way. I believe things happen for the better.
R Ashwin was trying a few variations today and you picked one of them well to smash it to the extra-cover boundary. Tell us about it?
I watched the ball coming out of his hand and I knew that he was going to bowl something different. I just waited on it and found it was a leg-spinner. It was pitched in my area and I hit it.
Do you practise the scoop shot a lot in the nets?
Yes, I do. I plan to use it mostly only in the T20 format. In the one-dayers if the situation arises where I have to try something different to create scoring opportunities, I don’t mind using it there too. Today (Thursday) I could feel that I wasn’t able to hit big shots. I didn’t hit a single six. So, I thought instead of wasting the ball I should use the bowler’s pace and sneak in some runs, if not the preferred way, the other way.
When you came back to bat after getting hit, wasn’t it hard to continue in the same vein? You hit four boundaries straight away!
I didn’t think about that, honestly. I was just feeling good that the pain had lessened and I was again ready to go and bat. I’m pretty used to this pain – I keep getting fractures and such injuries. The pain doesn’t take the smile off my face.
What did Dwayne Bravo tell you as he escorted you to the dugout when you retired hurt?
He asked me, ‘Are you okay, bro?’ I told him I’ll have to get myself checked by the physio first. We play against each other but when a player is hurt, we care about each other too and give them a good hug.
The Chennai Super Kings registered yet another thrilling win at home, chasing 160 against the Sunrisers Hyderabad. While major contribution to CSK’s win came from MS Dhoni(67 off 37) and Michael Hussey (45 off 26) there were a few events on the field that really changed the game in their favour early on.
First, Murali Vijay took a stunning diving catch at mid-on to get rid of Quinton de Kock in the first over and then Suresh Raina pounced on the ball at covers and affected a direct-hit to send the in-form Hanuma Vihari packing in the third over.
While Shikhar Dhawan steadied SRH’s boat, the two early wickets ensured CSK’s target remained in gettable limits. With the likes of Raina, Michael HusseyDwayne Bravo andRavindra Jadeja, CSK are emerging as one of best fielding sides this IPL. What brings out the best in the CSK fielders is that they enjoy the work.
After CSK’s five-wicket win, iplt20.com caught up with their fielding coach, Steve Rixon to talk about the team’s improved standards in the field. Here’s what he said
Alongside batting and bowling CSK is turning out to be one of the best fielding teams in the tournament as well. That must please you to no end.
It does. The fielding was a bit disappointing in the last game and we had a discussion about that. We’ve been up and down with our fielding so far but right now I have to say that we have started to get our consistency back and have started to produce special things in the field.
The first two Sunrisers wickets were created by the fielders – Vijay’s catch and Raina’s direct hit. Is fielding as important as an extra bowler in the team?
It is. Fielding is as crucial as the performance of a part-time bowler. It is the only guaranteed thing in the game. You know that you are going to be in the field for 20 overs. You don’t know whether you’re going to bat for one or 20 balls or how many overs you’re going to bowl. Today the way MS Dhoni got going, had his catch been taken (by Amit Mishra who dropped Dhoni on 0) it might have been a different game.
Does the importance and impact of fielding rise by several notches in the T20 format?
It does, there’s no doubt about it. We can’t afford to have passengers in the side these days that don’t field well. You can’t hide in this game and sometimes, fielding may be the only thing that you do in the whole game. It could be a match-winning save, a catch that Vijay took or the direct-hit by Raina. It’s important that you do that one-off thing really well.
At 37 Michael Hussey is still one of the best fielders going around. How much of a mentoring role does he play?
He does it through leading by an example. He makes fielding look very easy. In everything he does on the cricket field he is a perfect professional and that’s not by accident. He trains harder than the rest of the guys. It’s not easy but he works hard to get the job done.
Is Hussey the fielding captain of the team or is it someone younger like Suresh Raina?
I’m getting Suresh to be that man. Michael, if he can just do what he is doing, we know he’s going to be one of our best fielders along with what he does with the bat. If we leave him to do just that I think we’re going to get good results. Raina likes the responsibility and he likes to feel like he’s in the game all the time. So, I’d like him to be our number one fielder and the leader in that area.
As a fielding coach, are you high on technique?
Technique is the name of the game. You don’t become a good fielder unless you’ve got a good technique. You can have all the energy and the right attitude but if your technique is not good, you’re not going to field well. Most of these guys are right up there with their technique but there are some who need that little bit extra. My job is to ensure that those guys reach the top level as well.
Is it tough as a coach to adapt to different fielding styles and techniques with players from different countries?
There’s no difference. Yes, there are two catching techniques – fingers up and fingers down – but outside of that, it’s all about how you watch the ball all the way into your hands and take it. There’s no real difference in the way things are done in that area. I don’t have a problem in adjusting in any country or to players.
Do you enjoy watching Dwayne Bravo in the field? He always seems to be enjoying being out there.
He’s a very charismatic guy, Dwayne Bravo. The energy he shows through a little piece of fielding, catching or the dance moves he does, it makes us a very vibrant team. He’s very handy to have in the side for that reason alone.
Do you get involved with MS Dhoni in brushing up his keeping skills?
With him I do nothing. Mr. Dhoni is his own man and he does his own thing. Because he plays so much cricket he doesn’t do too much technical work at all. MS is MS and thank God that he is. He has got very quick hands.