The Ranji Trophy might be just at the half-way mark, but Rishi Dhawan is already in full flight.
He is the leading wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy, by some distance. He has 42 wickets from six games, 13 more than Jalaj Saxena of Madhya Pradesh. He has had five five-wicket hauls as well as a ten-wicket haul in a match, and he has been scoring runs too. He has made 350 runs, with four fifties.
He has captained Himachal Pradesh to the top of Group ‘C’, in what is his maiden season as captain. Indeed, life could seem like a dream at times.
Even such a dream could have some rude jolts, as Dhawan discovered here on Sunday, when his side was beaten by host Kerala in the Ranji Trophy. “Kerala won a crucial toss and it was always going to be difficult to bat in the fourth innings on such a turning track as this,” Dhawan told The Hindu. “But I am confident that we would still be able to progress to the knock-out stage.”
The 23-year-old said he was happy with the way things went this season, especially his bowling. “I have been bowling well right from the beginning,” he said. “I have tried to concentrate more on my line and that has helped my bowling.”
Dhawan said he enjoyed playing for Mumbai Indians in the IPL this year. “It was a great experience playing with the legends,” he said.
He is aiming higher. “Yes, my ambition is to play for India,” he says. “I have been taking wickets and scoring runs and hope I would get noticed.”
His coach at the Himachal Pradesh Ranji team, Rajdeed Kalsi, believes he is ready for an international career.
“Rishi could be an extremely useful all-rounder,” he said. “He has become an even better bowler after he has added the in-swinging yorker to his armoury. He can swing the ball at about any stage; yes, he could reverse too. He could thrive in countries like England and New Zealand.”
Kalsi said Dhawan was also a dependable batsman. “He has the knack of scoring runs on just about any surface; even on this under-prepared wicket here, you could see him bat comfortably,” he said. “But the best thing about him as a cricketer is his attitude. He is positive, all the time. I hope he gets a break when he is young and is in form.”