India's stand-in captain for the three-match ODI series against South Africa, Shikhar Dhawan feels all the stand-by players for the upcoming T20 World Cup would want to use these three 50-over encounters to make a case for themselves for the main squad.
Mohammed Shami, Shreyas Iyer, Ravi Bishnoi and Deepak Chahar have been named in the stand-bys for the showpiece event in Australia and will be travelling Down Under as reserves. Jasprit Bumrah has been ruled out of the World Cup, and if Shami fails to recover on time, India could pick one of Chahar, Avesh Khan or Mohammed Siraj as Bumrah's replacement. Shami might be the favourite to take that spot but Chahar, Avesh and Siraj would try to leave no stones unturned.
"Of course, it is very important because the more matches they (standby players) are going to play, they will be in a better groove and better mindset. If the boys perform well, then obviously the confidence will help them. Who knows they might get a chance so they can look at this series as preparation," said Dhawan prior to the first ODI, which will be played in Lucknow on Thursday (October 6).
The likes of Rahul Tripathi, Rajat Patidar, Mukesh Kumar, Shahbaz Ahmed are also part of the ODI squad and Dhawan feels that the exposure will only help these uncapped players grow.
"If you look at the performance of our youngsters, the transition that happened that shows their confidence. The more they play they will get more experience, their confidence level will increase. They will learn from mistakes. Even for me as well. Keeping 2023 in mind, the more matches I play will be beneficial for me.
"The team is very good and with this team we played in West Indies and Zimbabwe. Most of the players are the same, there are one or two new players. We share a good tuning. The new boys have brought in new energy. They have been doing well in the last few series."
On a personal front, Dhawan's Test and T20I career is over but the left-handed opener is still an integral part of the ODI set-up and his eyes set on the 2023 50-over World Cup. The 36-year-old, who has captained the ODI team in Sri Lanka and West Indies and was the vice-captain in Zimbabwe, averages close to 54 in ODIs since 2020.
"I feel very blessed I had a beautiful career. I am really grateful. Whenever possible I pass on my knowledge to youngsters. Now there is new responsibility on me but I see opportunity in challenges and I enjoy it. My goal currently is 2023 World Cup. I just want to keep myself fit and be in a good state of mind to be in fray.
"I try to give them such an environment where they can be themselves and open up. They can then communicate much better. I try to keep a happy, light environment and side by side I also share my experiences and even I learn a lot from them.".
Talking about South Africa, Dhawan said: "South Africa has a good team. Winning and losing are part of the game but it is important to learn from defeats. Both the teams made plenty of runs in the T20 series. It depends on the pitch, dew factor, and plenty of other factors."
Dhawan begs to differ that India had been experimenting with the captaincy of late. "Whenever experiment happened that time the senior players were not there. They were given rest, need to manage their load otherwise there are chances of injuries. Whoever is made the captain he is the most senior-most players and capable for the job."
(With inputs from PTI)