'KL Rahul is an important player': Shikhar Dhawan on return of India opener for Zimbabwe series

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, August 16, 2022, 06:55 PM IST
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KL Rahul (L) and Shikhar Dhawan (R) | PTI

He might have been relegated to vice-captaincy after KL Rahul's late inclusion but the team's senior-most player is always ready to lend a helping hand to the youngsters who seek out for him.

Dhawan was all set to lead the team in a three-match ODI series here but now that he will be performing the duties of a deputy, he is ready to put his best foot forward.

Guiding youngsters

"I quite enjoy sharing my experience with the youngsters in the team. I first came here in 2014 (actually 2013), when Duncan Fletcher was the Indian coach. If they (youngsters) reach out to me for any suggestions, I am (always) there to answer them," Dhawan told reporters at a media conference here.

The 36-year-old southpaw is rather happy that skipper Rahul will get the much-needed game time ahead of the all-important Asia Cup. "It is a good news that KL (Rahul) is back and will be leading the side as well. He is one of the main players of this Indian team. It will be a good outing for him before the Asia Cup gets underway. I am sure he will gain a lot from this tour," Dhawan said.

All-rounder Washington Sundar who was a sure-shot starter against Zimbabwe was ruled out after he injured his left shoulder in the Royal London One Day Cup.

The 22-year-old Chennai lad last donned the Indian colours during the West Indies series in February 2021.

Important player

"It's sad that Washington is out. He is quite an important player for the side. But it's part and parcel...injuries happen. Hope, he will recover soon. He will be missed him as a spinner but we have got a good back-up through Kuldeep Yadav and Deepak Hooda, who also bowls off-spin," the Indian vice captain said.

While India is back in the southern African nation for the first time since 2016 and haven't played much against them in the last few years, Dhawan was of the opinion that should not take Zimbabwe, especially after their recent series win against Bangladesh.

"They have won against Bangladesh. They are playing good cricket. It's good for us and we cannot take anything for granted. It's about the process.

"Regardless of the team we are facing, we always make sure we do things right so that we end up getting the right results. That will once again be our focus as a team," Dhawan said.

Dhawan praised senior Zimbawean batter Sikandar Raza and said that the Indian bowlers will have to bowl smart against the latter to contain him in the right time.

"He is a very good player. He has been playing for Zimbabwe for a long time. He is a quality player. I am sure our bowlers with come up with nice plans against him," he said.

Dhawan went on to add that the series against Zimbabwe will be crucial for a number of youngsters in the squad like Shubman Gill, Avesh Khan, Ishan Kishan, and the exposure they are getting will be extremely beneficial to them in the coming days. "The youngsters, these days, have got more exposure. They are confident and they have got good technique. Their confidence level is quite high because of domestic and IPL. We feel that we have got so many options. It is a healthy sign for the team," Dhawan said.

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