The Delhi cricketers are known for their fearlessness.
Shikhar Dhawan, who clinically hammered the Australian attack to rush to his century on Test debut at Mohali, is no different.
“He is fearless,” said V.V.S. Laxman — known for punishing the fiercest of Australian attacks — in the commentary box on Saturday.
Laxman’s observation was, in fact, a tribute to the typical daredevilry of the Delhi batsmen in general.
“Dhawan had no fear, even when he was a young batsman playing age group cricket.
“Fearlessness is ingrained in Delhi cricket, because we play a lot of limited-over matches. You always have a target to achieve,” said Madan Sharma, who coached Dhawan as a teenage entrant in the Sonnet Club.
Madan was delighted as his ward made an explosive start (185 batting) to his Test career. “He was a talented player and had some fluent strokes. But the biggest quality in him is his hunger for success.
“He was always keen to do well and play in higher age group teams.”
Tarak Sinha, who was the head coach of the club, concurred on Dhawan’s natural talent.
“He did very well from the start, as a 12-year-old. His judgement of the ball was too good and I still remember a century he scored in an under-14 tournament. His temperament has improved a lot over the years.”
Late debut a help
The two coaches agreed that the late Test debut helped Dhawan immensely.
“It was good for him. He has become more mature as a batsman. Whatever (experience) he has faced so far, he is now implementing at the highest stage,” said Sinha.
Madan added, “In the last two-and-half years, he has started to understand the importance of converting 70s and 80s to hundreds. A batsman reaches his peak at the age of 27 or 28.
“Now he understands the situation well. The centuries he scored in the Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy and the warm-up game at Kotla against England boosted his confidence.
“Before the Australia series, he practised with plastic balls (at the club) to get a feel of the bouncing deliveries.”
Pat from Dahiya
Former Delhi teammate and coach Vijay Dahiya shared how Dhawan, now the Delhi skipper, remained unaffected by the frustration of not getting his due.
“He has been performing well for the last five-six years. Even though some younger players got to play for India ahead of him, it did not affect him. Like a five-year-old, he is so clean at heart… I have never seen him getting envious about anyone.
“It does not happen in India that you get your chance at 27. But, he hung in there and kept fighting.
“He has become more responsible, thinking about others and contributing for the team.
“It is a dream start and I want him to enjoy the moment,” said Dahiya.