India were battered and bruised against Sri Lanka in the first ODI, and captain Rohit Sharma had to face a lot of flak for it. But being the champion that he is, the Indian opener has responded in some style with a swashbuckling double ton which is his third in international cricket. All the other cricketers in the world have scored 4, Rohit’s scored 3. 

That speaks volumes about his natural talent. For this month’s cover story, we spoke to Shikhar Dhawan and asked him about his relationship with other Indian openers. “Each one of them is a different character. With Vijay, I know that he doesn’t like his non-striker to be moving here and there. He’s very particular about it, ‘oh don’t move this way,’ ‘oh don’t move that way.’ Rahul and Rohit are completely different, they’re funny guys. Ajinkya is also funny but in a serious way. But they’re all very good players and we all share a very good relationship,” he said. 

Shikhar also spoke about how even though they were healthy friends, there was still some sense of competition around since they are all vying for the same place in the team. “The mood inside the team is really healthy, really happy. We all laugh a lot, we all cheer each other up. And of course it’s a competitive world. There are so many quality batsmen [vying for the top order slot in limited overs cricket] — KL Rahul, Ajinkya (Rahane), Rohit (Sharma), and even myself (laughs). So the pressure is there, but it also brings the best out of me. When you’re uncomfortable, you learn more. I always know that if I don’t perform well for 2-3 matches, there’s always another player to take my place in the team. That keeps me on my toes, which is a very good thing.”

“But at the same time, my acceptance power is strong. So if say Rahul or Ajinkya is playing instead of me — of course it will hurt a bit — I’ll analyse where I need to improve. For instance, when I was out of the Test team, or T20, I knew that I didn’t perform and that’s why I’m out. So I don’t believe in excuses in life. What is out there is how it is. Even when I went for this (Sri Lanka) Test series, I was the third opener. M Vijay was there and he got injured. But I came in with the mindset that I might not get to play. That’s the reality out there and I can’t mould it according to my own wishes. In sport — especially in cricket, which is just a one-ball game for the Batsman — at times things are not gonna go your way. And that’s how it is. Period,” he said. 

Also, considering he is the interim captain, let’s look at something he told us when we quizzed him about being a good leader. “Yes I do enjoy it; it’s the most challenging part of the game and l love challenges. It requires a lot of discipline to start with, a lot of commitment and hard work. Leading from the front in everything you do and setting good examples for your team mates is something that I put my mind to. You have to put yourself in the headspace of the batsman, the bowler and the fielders, and that’s my favourite part of the challenge,” he said. 

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