Delhi Capitals’ flamboyant opener Shikhar Dhawan is enjoying one of his best seasons in the IPL, having scored 525 runs in 14 matches at a personal best average of 47.72 and strike-rate of 145. The left-hander has effectively used his experience at the top of the order for the Delhi Capitals throughout the season, and will look to impress again as his team faces Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 of the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
Speaking to the media over a virtual press conference on Wednesday, the 34-year-old batsman was oozing with confidence as he answered a variety of questions.
Asked if Mumbai Indians have an upper hand going into tomorrow’s encounter, Dhawan said, “I don’t think they have an upper hand. We’ve got a quality team and we know we can beat any team. We just have to play good cricket and have to be very clear with our plans. I believe if we manage to do that, we can certainly win.”
Both Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane scored half-centuries in DC’s last match against RCB, and the former was asked whether Rahane’s presence in the middle order allows him some freedom. “Yes, of course his presence allows me to play freely. He brings a lot of stability in the middle order, and day before yesterday, he played an amazing knock – it’s always an advantage when he is there in the side, and I can play more freely when he is on the other end,” said Dhawan.
Thursday’s Qualifier 1 could see the return of Rohit Sharma to Mumbai’s starting XI, and Dhawan was asked if his team will look to take advantage of the former having missed some matches. “Rohit is a very good player, and yes he hasn’t played many matches so I’m not sure about his touch, and that means that we can definitely take advantage of it. My best wishes to him, but yes as opponents, we can take advantage of that for sure and make plans accordingly.”
Dhawan’s knock of 54 on Monday took his tally to over 500 runs for the season, a landmark he’s now crossed four times in his IPL career, and the opener was asked if he reckons this has been his best season ever. “I’ve been scoring over 500 for the past four years so all should be best – but this season, I’ve also scored two centuries and had two ducks – which is something that I’ve never done before. But the key for me is to maintain my form and help my team. For me, all seasons are good – I always play with good intent and passion,” expressed Dhawan.
Commenting on what Head Coach Ricky Ponting brings to the table, Dhawan said, “Having him as coach is a huge advantage. He always backs us with everything, and gives us clarity in difficult situations. He’s always ready for open chats – he would ask for feedback about the coaching staff also – to get the best out of the team. So he’s got great communication with all of us – not just the playing XI, but everyone, and he’s been really fantastic for us.”
Mumbai’s bowling attack is something that Dhawan will be wary of, and the left-hander was asked if he’s got any special plans for the likes of Bumrah and Boult. “At the moment, I’m just relaxing and keeping myself fresh for tomorrow. I’ve seen them plenty of times – have watched the videos and I already know their plans, so I am prepared, and will just go out there tomorrow and perform,” said the 34-year-old.
Asked what advise he would give to young batsman Prithvi Shaw who has been struggling to convert starts, Dhawan said, “He’s timing the ball very nicely and hit 3-4 boundaries the other day, so my advise to him would be to stay calm, to stay positive. I think he just needs to believe in himself and trust his ability and his process – I’m sure he will get through this and perform well going forward.”