Sharing the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar is a memory that Rishi Dhawan would cherish all his life, and now the young Himachal Pradesh all-rounder is confident that he would have an equally great time playing alongside Virender Sehwag for Kings XI Punjab this season.
"What do I say about Sachin paaji. It was special to spend time with him. The IPL winning moments with him will stay with me forever. He used to point out all my faults at the nets and I became a better player as the tournament went on. Now it is great to play with Viru paaji," Dhawan said while recollecting his stint with Mumbai Indians, who won the IPL last season. (Full Coverage of IPL 2014)
The 24-year-old was bought for Rs three crore at the back of a solid show in the Ranji Trophy where he was the highest wicket-taker besides scoring 450 runs. (Full Schedule)
He said his focus this IPL is to perform his dual role so well that he gets a shot at being the seaming all-rounder India is looking for a long time.
The expectations have increased from the lad from Mandi after he did well in the recent domestic T20 games in Mohali.
"There is no point putting pressure on myself ahead of the IPL. It has been a good time for me and my family since the auction. I am not really distracted by the attention and the focus is on playing good cricket. Hopefully, it will get me into the Indian team," Dhawan said.
Getting into the national team like any upcoming player is the ultimate dream for Dhawan, who can realise it rather quickly given that India are still unable to find a seaming all-rounder for the long run.
Stuart Binny could not do much in the recent chances he got while Irfan Pathan has been out of the team owing to form and fitness.
"I am trying the best I can irrespective of the level I am playing at. It now depends on the selectors, when they think of giving me the opportunity."
Asked about his role, the shy cricketer said: "I see myself more as a batting all-rounder. Every match I play I make sure I give equal attention to both batting and bowling."
Dhawan took to the game at a tender age of 13 and was mostly confined to the pleasant environs of Himachal Pradesh's third largest city. A decade later, the little-known all-rounder has become the latest millionaire in Indian cricket. Ask him about the journey and he prefers to credit it all to the almighty.
"God has been kind. I don't know what I will do with the money. I was hooked on to the TV in Amritsar where I was watching the auction. Everyone was really happy with the news," he signed off.