Regular India opener Shikhar Dhawan says he is ready to bat anywhere after skipper Virat Kohli's move to drop himself down at No. 4 to accommodate him and K L Rahul backfired in the first ODI against Australia. The visitors crushed India by 10 wickets in the first of the three-match series, chasing down a 256-run target with plenty to spare on Tuesday.
"If they ask me to bat at No.3, of course, I'll do it. Anything for my country, for sure," Dhawan said after the game in which K L Rahul came in at the critical position.
"You have to be mentally strong, all the boys are mentally strong, that's why they've been playing international cricket and it's part of the journey, sometimes you've to switch numbers as well."
The senior player said it was completely the captain's decision to drop himself down at No.4 from his usual No.3 slot. "See that is a captain's choice, KL is batting well, he did well in the last series and he played really well and he played well today.
"I feel it is the captain's choice where he wants to play and he has done amazing at No. 3, maybe I feel, he will think about it to go at number three again," he said.
After the game, Kohli said he might have to rethink his plans going into the second and third ODIs. Dhawan blamed the loss of four wickets in the middle overs for the mauling. David Warner and Aaron Finch slammed unbeaten tons to power the visitors to a convincing win at the Wankhede Stadium.
"We handled those first 10-15 overs very nicely. We lost four wickets in a go, that is where the game changed for us, then we were behind and then we were trying to cover it, so that is where we went wrong," said Dhawan, who made 74 off 91 balls, said.
Australia pulled things back to bowl India out for 255 and Warner (128 not out) and Finch (110) then did the rest. India lost five quick wickets after Dhawan and K L Rahul (47) added 121 for the second wicket.
"K L (Rahul) got out. That time we planned to accelerate and those four wickets we lost, that's where we lost the momentum. We were targeting 300 runs but we ended up scoring fewer runs. In bowling, we could not take early wickets. They outplayed us," admitted Dhawan.
Asked whether the Indian batting was too dependent on him, Kohli and Rohit Sharma, Dhawan said, "See it is just one bad day in office. We played really well against the West Indies, there all the batsmen did well. "Shreyas (Iyer) has been doing so well and he is a young lad, one-odd innings is going to go here and there, but we as a team back each other and we don't focus or put too much on one loss."
"They played really well, we were bit unlucky as top-edges went here and there and not in the hands (of the fielders)," he said.
Dhawan also showered praise on Warner. "Of course David is a world-class player and yes, once he's set he takes the game away, that's his ability. We were trying our best to get hold of him, unfortunately, we couldn't.
"But as I said they outplayed us. David and Finch both played very well. We're going to learn from it and come up with a better plan," the left-handed batsman said.
The current Australian team is a much stronger compared to the one that toured India last year. "They've got good quality bowlers and they've got some decent pace as well and it's a good challenge as well. We guys enjoy taking that challenge and if you look back to the World Cup, we scored 330, we took them on as well," Dhawan said.
"Of course in the first 10 overs, Pat Cummins bowled a really good line and length. He didn't give many loose deliveries and with that pace, it can get a bit challenging as well to score runs especially when they're bowling in such tight areas. But that doesn't mean that we don't have any chance."