Shikhar Dhawan might have amassed 6672 runs in 161 ODIs, studded with 17 centuries and 38 fifties, but the left-hander is not taking his 2023 World Cup spot for granted. The 36-year-old has been far from his best in ODIs this year. In 16 innings, Dhawan has managed 567 runs at an average of just over 40, but his strike rate has been just 74.6.
He knows that there will be a logjam in the top-order when Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul come back and along with him, Shubman Gill, who is in great form, will also be a contender for the opening slot. Rahul, however, could also slot in the middle-order like he has done so many times in the past. He only plays one format for India but Dhawan feels that it helps him maintain a work-life balance and stays fresh for international challenges.
"It totally depends on individuals. I count it as a blessing that I play one format and it gives me time to pursue other interests. I stay more fresh and much stronger compared to what I was when I played three formats," he said ahead of the first ODI against New Zealand in Auckland on Friday (November 25).
"We now have lots of players across three formats representing India and it's a good thing. Playing one format has its own challenges also but I make sure that I keep myself in the groove and don't lag behind others. I have to match the pace of the team. Otherwise, it won't be right.
Talking about his successful partnership with Rohit, Dhawan said: "We guys have been performing well and have been a successful pair. But I have to keep performing and can't take anything for granted till I am playing. And that keeps me on my toes."
The left-hander, however, understands that waiting in the wings for too long could demoralise youngsters and the only thing that can change it is proper communication." It is good that so many talented players are there. For me, it's all about communication from "coach saab" or the captain. There should be clarity in their reasoning. The players can be sad, bogged down. It's natural but he would know that it's done for a greater good."
Whenever regular skipper Rohit hasn't been present, it's Dhawan who has led the ODI side. He was named captain for the three-match ODI tour of Zimbabwe in August this year but was demoted by the former national selection committee once Rahul was declared fit and available.
"I wasn't hurt as I believe certain things are pre-destined and whatever happens is for our own good. And if you look at it, after Zimbabwe, I again captained against SA at home and the same selection committee handed me the leadership reins. So I am not at all hurt by what transpired in Zimbabwe. There must be something good hidden somewhere.
"I am very fortunate that at this juncture of my career, I have got a chance to lead India. Look in Zimbabwe, KL was made the captain because he is the vice-captain of the main team. And since he was going to Asia Cup (after that series) and in case Rohit got injured over there (in UAE) and Rahul had to captain, it was better that he captained in Zimbabwe and remained ready on the leadership front.
"So I thought from that perspective that was the right thing to do."
(With inputs from PTI)