Potent southpaws

Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund...going great guns.-ROHIT JAIN PARAS

Abhinav Mukund and Shikhar Dhawan share a habit, of scoring runs at all levels. Both love domestic cricket too because they know it is the platform to showcase their talent and stay in the reckoning, writes Vijay Lokapally.

Left-handers both, they complement each other well. Even if their styles differ, their intent does not. The aim is to score runs in abundance and attract the attention of the National selectors.

For Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund, the platform came in the most ideal circumstances. The Irani Cup has launched many careers in its five-decade long existence. For these two young batsmen, it was time to make a mark with a big statement on their abilities. Dhawan had imposing scores of 177 and 155. Mukund, after 18 in the first essay, produced a sparkling 154 in the second.

For Mukund, even with a cushion of five Test matches from the tours to West Indies and England, nothing has come easy. He has had to strive for recognition and would love to be known as a good batsman in all the formats of the game.

The only batsman to score three centuries in a row in the Irani Cup, the 21-year-old Mukund spoke of his priorities like a professional. “I want to do well in all the formats. If you see, modern cricket requires a batsman or a bowler to be adept both in the longer and the shortest version. It is important to be a good Test player because that is the real test. But I won't like to be tagged as just a Test player,” said the opener from Tamil Nadu.

Dhawan, with a century in each innings, also a first in the Irani Cup, has been on the circuit for eight years. He arrived with a bang at the 2003 World Cup (under-19), scoring more than 500 runs in the tournament and winning the Player of the Series award. He then lost his way. The 25-year-old left-hander from Delhi says that the past is past and looks at the future with optimism. “There are some things not in my hands. But I want to look ahead with hope. I have learnt my lessons.”

On his Irani Cup record, Dhawan responded, “While batting, I don't think of records at all. The aim is to score runs and if records happen as a part of that journey one feels happy. I doubt if any cricketer wants to play for records. If you do that, the focus can waver.”

Mukund echoes Dhawan's views. “I never play for records. I didn't know that this was a record. It's always nice to score centuries. Shikhar and I share a good rapport. It was great sharing the stage with him.”

Mukund and Dhawan excelled on the tour to England last year. The double century partnership against Yorkshire was the starting point for the two left-handers and the Irani Cup show a confirmation of their potential. “We have a good rapport with each other. When batting, we talk to each other a lot. It helps during pressure situations. We crack a few jokes too because it helps us to stay composed.”

Mukund admitted, “Shikhar is flamboyant. You can see that from the way he takes his singles, very fast. I am quite the opposite in many ways. I love takng my time and rotating the strike. Generally, it is great fun batting with him.”

Mukund and Dhawan share a habit, of scoring runs at all levels. Both love domestic cricket too because they know it is the platform to showcase their talent and stay in the reckoning.

“Domestic cricket has helped me earn a berth in the India team. There have been bad times, and good times. Life must go on,” says a philosophical Mukund. “I agree. Life must go on. One can't brood over past failures,” Dhawan signs off.