Former Australia cricketer Tom Moody has issued a few words of advice to Shikhar Dhawan and said the left-handed India opener first needs to be sure of his off-stump in order to convert his starts into big scores in Test matches.('Dhawan Should Have Been Forced to Bat Earlier')
Despite scoring 81 runs in the second innings of the second cricket Test between India and Australia in Brisbane, Dhawan is under pressure after failing in both the innings in the next Test in Melbourne.
And Moody feels Dhawan needs to work on his basics to pile up big runs in the longest format of the game.(Gutsy Dhawan Scores 81)
"The frustrating thing for Shikhar Dhawan is that he has got starts on a number of occasions on this tour. He has got himself in and not gone on to make those big hundreds which is obviously the hard part," Moody said after Australia regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-0 lead in Melbourne.
Asked what was hurting the Sunrisers Hyderebad skipper, Moody, who watched Dhawan from close quarters as the coach the IPL side, replied: "The most important factor for any Test batsman is to understand where their off-stump is. At times, Shikhar (Dhawan) can have that uncertainty. It's a different game in One-Day cricket because you don't have that field setting behind stumps, two or three slips, a gully etc. and those thick edges run down to third man."('Dhawan's Injury Caused Unrest in Dressing Room')
"Moving forward it is important for him to have a better understanding of his off-stump. For an opener particularly, that is very important in places like Australia, South Africa or other countries. He should always look to play positive cricket but that ability to leave the ball is very important too. When the ball is in that area, that corridor of fourth or fifth off-stump, knowing when to leave it makes all the difference," he opined.
Moody was full of praise for Dhawan's natural talent and advised the flamboyant left-hander not to curb his attacking game.
"He's got a couple wrong decisions and gotten himself out at the wrong times on other occasions. There cannot be a question over his talent or that ability to play the free-spirited game at the top of the order. And he shouldn't be asked to curb it either because he isn't getting runs.
"We all stood and applauded when he scored that incredible debut hundred at Mohali. I just think that he has missed an opportunity to capitalise on a start and he is not the only one to do so. Cheteshwar Pujara is another example," Moody said.
While Pujara's patchy run has been odd, he atleast has a tight defense to overcome it sooner or later.
But Dhawan's attacking approach to the five-day game is letting him down. His fifty in Brisbane was only his second 50-plus score in the last 12 Test innings. He failed to notch up a half-century in England where he was dropped after the third Test in favour of Gautam Gambhir.
He had scored 115 and 98 in New Zealand last February, but they came on the back of another seven innings without a half-century.
Dhawan's overseas Test average of an ordinary 29 in 10 Tests is not doing him any good either.
"Indeed, Shikhar has only to look around and learn from others. (Murali) Vijay for example, has been exceptional at top of the order and has converted his good starts. (Virat) Kohli himself has been nothing short of brilliant in how he has done it after England. (Ajinkya) Rahane too stamped a class about him previously unseen," said Moody.
"Overall it has been a very good effort from the Indian team and there are a lot of positives to be taken into the Sydney Test. Scoring runs consistently in a Test series in Australia is quite tough and only a few have done that successfully over the years, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, etc. So for this young group of players to have that confidence and do that at this early stage of their careers bodes well for Indian cricket's future," he feels.
"When you really dissect these three Test matches, the outcome tells you one story with Australia leading 2-0. But it has been a lot closer than what the series has been about. India have been in with moments where they could have grabbed it with both hands and actually had the match or series swinging in their favour. They just need to iron out inconsistencies in their bowling and bowl to a game plan to be successful in Sydney," Moody signed off.