Delhi Capitals player Shikhar Dhawan
Delhi Capitals player Shikhar Dhawan (left) and Mumbai Indians player Hardik Pandya during a practice session in Mumbai, on Friday. Image Credit: PTI

New Delhi: He is back ‘home’ and India opener Shikhar Dhawan is looking to make it a season worth remembering for the Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League (IPL). While the team has failed to rise to the challenge in the last couple of seasons, finishing at the bottom of the table, they have rejigged the squad and brought in a good mix of youth and experience.

While Dhawan was brought in to cement the batting at the top before the auction, the likes of Ishant Sharma was brought in the auction to add to the experience in the bowling unit. And Dhawan believes that this team can go the full distance and win the trophy.

‘Gabbar’ (as he is fondly known) said that a mix of hard and smart work has ensured that the Delhi Capitals are in the right frame of mind going into the 12th edition of the cash-rich league.

“I am looking forward to starting the season with a bang. Feels good to be back home after a long time and when it comes to cricket, we have a very good bunch of boys, a balanced side. Things have changed and I feel that change is good. We have a great support staff and I think we are in the right mindset which is very important.

“The way we are preparing, we are doing a lot of hardwork as well as smart work and I believe we are going to do well this season,” he smiled.

Personally, Dhawan had come into the ODI series against Australia with pundits questioning his form as he had managed to score just two fifties in 14 innings since his innings of 114 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in September 2018. But Dhawan silenced all with a swashbuckling 143 against the Aussies in the fourth ODI of the five-match series in Mohali.

Asked if he was under any pressure or if he was getting conscious considering that the World Cup is round the corner, Dhawan was at his wittiest best. “Conscious about what? This is my daily job. I make sure my basics are taken care of and I have a clear mind. Sometimes you make runs, sometimes you don’t. But I always keep calm and look at the areas where I need to work on and then I go and give it my best shot. I don’t believe in worrying too much,” he explained.

While one would have expected him to take on the captain’s role, Dhawan says he is happy to share his experience with skipper Shreyas Iyer and will be looking forward to mentoring the young players in the team.

“I feel very good and light. Shreyas captained the side last year and his bonding with Ricky Ponting (head coach) is great and it will only grow. As a senior player, I will share all my experience and whatever information I can provide to the team. I can always help my captain and give my inputs. It is on the skipper to decide how much he wants to use it.

Even as many players have spoken about workload management and the need to be smart to ensure that the body isn’t overworked, Dhawan is looking at the IPL as an opportunity to walk into the World Cup in top form.

“I guess everyone has been given breaks in rotation by the board, even I was given five weeks of rest by the selectors after a long time. It is a good thing because while you relax, you also focus on keeping the training regime going (we are given a chart on what all needs to be done). I feel the bowlers are quite fresh. Also, even Virat was recently given rest in New Zealand. We have balanced it quite well I feel.

“The IPL is our home tournament, so we must play and enjoy ourselves. I am sure those who do well in the IPL will take that form forward into the World Cup. Rhythm always helps a cricketer,” he said.