Himachal Pradesh all-rounder Rishi Dhawan, who was bought by Kings XI Punjab for Rs 3 crore at the 2014 players' auction, is eyeing impressive performances in the forthcoming Indian Premier League to stake a claim for national selection.
Dhawan, who became the second-most costliest uncapped Indian player at the auction after Railways all-rounder Karn Sharma (Rs 3.75 cr), believes his fine show for KXIP will act as a "stepping stone" to get ready for a maiden call-up into the Indian team.
"I have done well in the domestic circuit this season. I believe my good showing in the IPL will act as a stepping stone to get into the Indian team. I am looking forward to this year's IPL to further prove my credentials," Dhawan told PTI.
The young pacer from Mandi finished as the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy this year with 49 scalps. Dhawan was bought home by KXIP after a close bidding among Mumbai Indians, Rajasthan Royals, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab outfit at the IPL auctions.
Dhawan said his good showing in the domestic circuit and the limited opportunities he got with star-studded Mumbai Indians squad, which won the IPL and the Champions League T20, caught the eye of franchise owners.
"I was confident of getting picked by some franchise. I took 49 wickets in eight games in the domestic season this year and contributed with the bat as well. My experience with Mumbai Indians also made the other franchises interested in me. I am happy with how things panned out at the auction. I am looking forward to give my 100 per cent for KXIP and make them champions this year," he said.
The 24-year-old was picked up by the Mumbai franchise in 2012 and was impressive in his first season. He, however, experienced a forgettable run last year where he failed to get enough wickets, but got to play the semi-finals and finals in both the IPL and the CLT20.
Dhawan said it's been a "happy homecoming" for him as he was part of the Kings XI Punjab squad in 2008 and 2010.
"It's good to be back. I am looking forward to the opportunity. It's time to perform for Punjab, he said.
Dhawan, who has the ability to swing the ball both ways, is also a handy batsman. "I am an all-rounder. I can bat as well. My job would be to perform as an all-rounder."
Dhawan refused to buy the argument that he would be under constant pressure to perform and justify his price tag.
"I don't think so. I will play my natural game and give my 100 per cent. I don't think I would be under any kind of pressure to perform. On a lighter note, I was not expecting that much amount for me," he said.