A smashing comeback

“It was such an intoxicating feeling to emerge champions. I was very happy to win the Man of the Series award and it brought back fond memories of my success at the junior World Cup (2003-04) when I was the Player of the Tournament."

Shikhar Dhawan flies high in the 2013 Champions Trophy. He amassed 363 runs and was named the Player of the Series.   -  Getty Images

I was returning to the squad after two years. I had lost my place after the 2011 tour to the West Indies when I got only one fifty in five innings. I was obviously disappointed but not dejected to the extent that I would lose my confidence. I worked hard on my game and winning a place for the Champions Trophy was an important factor in reviving my career.

It was a critical phase for my cricket no doubt. There was this talk of England presenting various challenges and the pressure on me was greater since I was expected to open the innings and give it an aggressive start. We had a young team which was in the transition period. Many stalwarts had left the scene and we had a rich legacy to maintain. I was game for the challenge and that made me all the more positive and excited as we landed in England.

I had heard about the different types of pitches and the impact of the weather on the overall competition. It only steeled me because I like it when the opposition is strong and the conditions daunting. Our opponents were tough and I made a silent resolve to take it game by game. 

South Africa was the first team to tackle and I simply relished the game in Cardiff. The pitch was not menacing but one had to play on merit. I was surprised when some people said it was slow. The ball seamed and sometimes kicked too and the South Africans were keen to bowl quick. It was my day as I got a century, one of my finest innings, and we set a target that was a formidable one for them to handle. The man of the match award was a wonderful gift for my successful return to the Indian squad. The next encounter, against the West Indies, at the Oval was equally entertaining. I helped myself to a century, this time in a chase after we were set a target of 234. The comprehensive victory was an ideal preparation for the match against Pakistan in Edgbaston. Our bowlers did a splendid job of stifling Pakistan and I top-scored with 48 to maintain my form and India’s wining streak.

We returned to Cardiff for the semifinal against Sri Lanka and once again the bowlers laid the foundation with some lively spells. Once again I top-scored (with 68) and enjoyed my partnership with Virat (Kohli) as we won by eight wickets. 

The final against England in Edgbaston was cut short to a T20 contest and we won by five runs. It was such an intoxicating feeling to emerge champions. I was very happy to win the Man of the Series award and it brought back fond memories of my success at the junior World Cup (2003-04) when I was the Player of the Tournament.

(As told to Vijay Lokapally)

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