In his lengthy career with Delhi, India and within the Indian Premier League (IPL), two issues have been fixed for Shikhar Dhawan—aggression as a batsman and a calmness that borders on the monkish away from the taking part in field.
No marvel then that once we counsel the IPL bio-bubble, where players will spend greater than two months reduce off from the remainder of the world is akin to a retreat, Dhawan smiles and agrees.
“Nice to test our mental strength,” he says, talking by way of a Zoom name from his resort room within the UAE.
Then, ominously, he provides: “It’s almost like Big Boss.”
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The IPL, which begins September 19 within the UAE, will see players holed up for roughly 80 days, their worlds circumscribed by their resort, coaching field, and match venue, where they may play to empty stadiums. That’s rather a lot to deal with.
“It (the bio-bubble) is a new thing for everyone,” he says. “More than challenging, I see it as an opportunity to improve in every aspect. I keep myself entertained; I take it in a positive way.”
Success at this season’s match, Dhawan says, may rely on how players navigate this new actuality.
“It totally depends on how a person talks to himself; you can be your best friend or you can be a victim,” Dhawan says. “You can have 10 people who are positive around you, but if you are not your friend, no one can help.
“We don’t have any outlet. I enjoy going to a restaurant, seeing people. So, how are people going to take it? This IPL it’s going to matter a lot.
“If people are not performing well, how do they take it? They have to stay with the same people, in the hotel only, in the same space. I am sure it’s going to have a huge impact on everyone.”
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Dhawan himself is well-equipped to deal with this psychological problem; in the course of the months of lockdown, he delved into meditation and yoga, practices that he says has helped him each bodily and mentally.
“My stamina, focus, and mobility has got better,” he says, “I used to have a stiff body, my mobility has really gone to a level I like. Also skills keep changing. Little things that you won’t notice, like my stance has changed a little. Some of it is detailed stuff that of course I won’t like to tell.”
All of these issues might be put to the check when the 34-year-old opener performs his first aggressive game of cricket since January, when the Delhi Capitals will start their campaign vs Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.
In this new and weird setting, the problem for Delhi Capitals stays the same–an IPL win has remained elusive in 12 seasons, and no staff has completed on the backside as many occasions as Delhi has. Yet, last season, a homecoming for Dhawan after the batsman spent 4 victorious years at Sunrisers Hyderabad (he gained the league in 2016), Delhi Capitals reached the play-offs. Dhawan scored 521 runs, the fourth highest of the season.
“More than skill-based, it’s going to be mentally challenging, coming after five months and playing in such a big tournament. It will take a lot of courage, skill and everything for a team to start doing well. Can there be a new winner? Why not? Someone was saying how every leap year there is a new winner. Hopefully, we will see Delhi Capitals lifting the trophy.”
Dhawan and his new Delhi teammate R Ashwin have gained the IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings respectively and the 2 will look to shepherd the youthful expertise within the facet.
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“Prithvi (Shaw) is in good touch, he is a class player. And Rishabh, Shreyas and Prithvi all are maturing as well. And we have Ajinkya Rahane, Ashwin coming in… I feel we’ve got a very complete side. Especially at the start, the pitches are going to be nice, I am assuming. Playing only on three venues, we will get turning pitches as well. We got enough batsmen who play the turning ball well. We have Marcus Stoinis and Alex Carey, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul as well, and Lalit Yadav is a good bat and bowls off-spin.”
The huge speaking level are the low and sluggish pitches which can be prone to be on supply on the three UAE venues and the way groups will cope in these situations. The apply pitches although have been bouncy “like we were in Perth”, says Dhawan. “After some time the pitches can get slow and low, but we have all bases covered. Aap order karo, wohi aap ke samne pesh karte hain! (you order and we will deliver).”
For Dhawan, the precedence is straightforward–give his staff an explosive begin.
“In IPL, we have to give a fiery start,” he says. “And then the person who is set takes the game further. I would love to be an impact player, create momentum for my team. For 5-6 overs mostly I am the aggressor for India too; Rohit (Sharma) takes his time and then plays. I am talking about ODIs here. (In T20) you get 6-7 balls to settle. Sometimes it depends on what the team role is, if the team wants 50 runs from 6 overs…everyday it’s not the same thing, but mostly you have to fire from both ends and that’s the best thing. And at the same time be smart enough not to lose too many wickets.”
Despite the breakneck tempo and big-hitting nature of the sport, T20s, like some other format of cricket, requires a sure type of persistence, says Dhawan.
“When you’re desperate, you are running after it, it’s difficult to do well,” he says. “It happened with me. I was playing against New Zealand (2016), I knew if I didn’t play well, I would be out. I was working hard but was desperate and eventually I was dropped. I realized desperate energy is not nice. When you are relaxed, you are happier. For me happiness and calmness are what matters.
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“If you are desperate, you will not have clarity and will be rushing for solutions. Under pressure, great players know how to play. Dhoni bhai used to take the game till the last over, not many can do that. He was never desperate, or rushing it. That is why he could pull the game away from the other team.”
Among IPL groups this season, Capitals have arguably essentially the most high-profile coach in Ricky Ponting. The Aussie legend’s recommendation for Dhawan is easy. “He is a great coach and I enjoy working with him. He told me, keep your body language stronger and I worked on it and it has helped me. We (players) are mindful of the need to do specific things so that we improve.”
What is Dhawan’s personal recommendation to teammates? “I always tell them to keep the process right. We repeat the success mantra often, once we keep doing that, everything will keep coming to us. We shouldn’t be getting desperate to go after something because we haven’t won it.”