Sunday, 13 Aug, 2.58 am

Dhawan batting like a king again

When Shikhar Dhawan made his Test debut, it was with a bang - a breath-taking 180 against Australia at Mohali in 2013.

His Test career since then hasn't progressed at the promised level though. Just 26 Tests in more than four years isn't what he appeared destined for when he put the Australian attack to sword. Dhawan had come in place of Virender Sehwag, who had been dropped after his failure in the previous Test in Hyderabad, and India thought they had found a like-for-like replacement.

His form, however, took such a beating that he was even dropped from the squad. With three openers ahead of him in the pecking order, Dhawan Test career was far from an early resurrection. But having got back into the side under some fortuitous circumstances, Dhawan is batting like a king again.

After a swashbuckling 190 in the first innings of the first Test at Galle, Dhawan cracked another sparkling hundred (119 off 123 balls, 17x4) in the first innings of the third Test here on Saturday. While he had a good chance of making it even bigger, Dhawan, who got out playing a slog sweep, had few regrets over the manner of his dismissal.

"If you bat like a king, you should also get out like a king, you should not be dismissed like a soldier," he said talking about his aggressive game. "If you have made runs aggressively, then you will get out that way too. That's how it is. I know I am an aggressive batsman, so I would rather get out that way than getting out in the slips and being defensive because that is not my natural game," he reasoned.

Dhawan felt it was easier for him to be aggressive in his approach to batting. The left-hander pointed out the phase when he struggled to get runs and attributed it to his defensive mindset. Dhawan has a reason when he makes that point.

During the period between November 2015 and October 2016, following which he was dropped from the Test squad, Dhawan managed just 306 runs in 13 innings at an average of just over 25. But significantly, his strike rate had come down to 47.88 per hundred balls as compared to his career strike rate of 65.44. Going by the evidence on the show, the return to his old methods is definitely working for Dhawan.

"When I was having failures, that time I had a different kind of approach," Dhawan pointed out when asked if it was tough to remain aggressive all the while. "I was more on the defensive mode but now I try to go and express myself out there and play my natural game. So that works for me. I try to back myself as much as possible."