Shikhar Dhawan: Lost and found
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Note: The interview was printed well before the ongoing India vs Australia Mohali Test.
Nine years ago, he shot to prominence at the Under-19 World Cup. Having stagnated while his teammates established themselves in the national side, Shikhar Dhawan tells Aditya Iyer that he has discovered balance in life and consistency on the cricket field.
"Destiny," he says. Shikhar Dhawan uses his word of choice much like a punchline to a film, adding much drama to the process. He runs his palm through his crew cut scalp, pinches the consciously groomed rat-tail tuft sleeping above his neck and a finger pushes the large aviators over his sloping nose ridge. Then, twirling his freshly grown moustache handles skywards, he delivers it. "Yeh sab destiny hai yaar," he says, each word further stressing on the obviousness of it. Each syllable interrupting the background score, the percussion of cork smashing against English willow in a school yard.
So, destiny it is. And who are we to disagree? Destiny blessed a school boy with cricket strokes that grown men struggle to play. Destiny made the prodigy outshine the world as an Under-19 cricketer at the junior World Cup. Destiny ensured that the outshone cemented their spots in the Indian team, leaving Dhawan behind like a stain. Destiny allowed him to lose his way in the years to follow as the boy grew into a self-confessed immature and aimless man. But now destiny has brought him back. Destiny introduced him to his wife and her two young daughters from her first marriage. It introduced him to responsibility. Then destiny introduced him to his fate.
On Friday morning, India will take the field in Chennai against the Australians to commence the first Test of a four match series. Dhawan has a fifty per cent chance of becoming India's 276th Test player, vying for the only vacancy in the eleven with the 12-Test-old Murali Vijay — that of the opener's slot left behind by Gautam Gambhir. This, finding himself on the threshold of his dream, he claims with much chest thumping pride, was achieved the hard way. "I cleaned out my head. There was a problem there. Now I have been consistent for nearly two years," Dhawan says, sounding much like an abiding AA member who counts his days of sobriety.
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