With India captain M.S. Dhoni unwilling to interact with the media, it was the side’s opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan who addressed newspersons on the eve of the second Test on Thursday.
Media manager Dr. Baba made it clear ahead of the session that questions on IPL would not be entertained. When a journalist did ask one on corruption in cricket, it was quickly shot down.
Dhawan’s second innings 115 was perhaps the biggest gain for India from the first Test. He was fortunate to be grassed by Brendon McCullum on seven, but made the reprieve count.Two-paced pitches
The opener said: “It was nice to score a century away from home. The conditions here are hard. The new ball swings and you need to be patient and bat through that. The pitches here are a bit two-paced as well, particularly with the short balls. So you have to play straight and close to the body.”
Dhawan began his Test career with a dazzling 187 against Australia in Mohali last season but subsequently went through a rough period in Tests.
In his next four Tests, including a two-Test series in South Africa, Dhawan failed to score beyond 35 in any of his innings.
Dhawan said: “My century in Auckland was very important for my confidence. It has been a learning process for me. I have been learning from my mistakes, trying to analyse what I need to do.”Respectable record
Despite a form slump and a subsequent revival, Dhawan’s Test record still reads a respectable 434 runs from six Tests at 48.22.
Yet, the bulk of his runs have come from two Test hundreds. Consistency is an area he is working on.
“I need to bat according to the situation and the wicket. I have been trying to play with a calm mind as well. I think I achieved that in the second innings at Auckland,” Dhawan said.New team
He felt this Indian team needed to be given some time to develop. “It’s a new team. We are all pretty young. Some of us have played only five or six Tests. We fought back in the second innings of the last Test. Came close to scoring a win.”
The Delhi batsman felt India could square the series at the Basin Reserve.
“We bowled New Zealand out for just over 100 in the second innings of the first Test. We have the pacemen who can do that again.”
The green wicket here did not seem to deter Dhawan. “We know the ball will move around. But we have the batting. Tomorrow is a new day. We need to stay positive.”
“We have to keep our basics strong in batting, bowling and fielding. We have a good fielding side,” he added.
But then, after the departure of Rahul Dravid & Co, India is still struggling to find the right men in the slip cordon.
Catches are being dropped and the side needs to plug the holes quickly.
Dhawan said the one-game break he received between the third and the fifth ODIs, enabled him freshen mentally. “The rest did me good. I got a chance to reflect on my game. Look into what had gone wrong.”
Opening the batting at the Basin Reserve can be extremely demanding.
Dhawan’s mind and technique will be under scrutiny.