India Opener Shikhar Dhawan On His Fitness

Succeeding as an opener in ODI cricket requires the batters to oscillate between taking on the bowlers early in the innings and making runs all around the park. India’s left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan has been doing this balancing act since his international debut in 2010.

But it was in 2013 that Dhawan found his groove as an opener in ODIs, becoming the highest run-getter in ICC Champions Trophy with 363 runs and playing a big hand in India lifting the trophy. Since then, Dhawan has been an integral part of the ODI side, with impressive numbers of 6,284 runs in 149 ODIs at an average of 45.53, including 17 centuries and 35 fifties.

Now, in 2022, largely seen as an ODI specialist, Dhawan will be back in action when India plays three ODIs against England on July 12, 14, and 17. After this, Dhawan will be captaining India in a three-match ODI tour of West Indies on July 22, 24, and 27, having previously captained the side in the white-ball tour to Sri Lanka last year.

In an interview with IANS, Dhawan speaks about opening in ODI cricket, being prepared for matches, the importance of staying fit amidst a hectic cricketing schedule, his off-the-field ventures, and giving up on favorite food items for gains in the game. Excerpts: –

Q: ODI cricket has been a format where you have had a strong grip, especially in terms of pacing your innings. What is there about opening the batting in ODIs which has fetched you success?

A: I’ve been playing ODIs for quite some years now and that has helped me gain a lot of experience. It’s a beautiful format, there are 50 overs and you have to play aggressively and mellow it down according to the situation and understand the game. I feel that my basics have been strong since the beginning, I trust my technique and keep a calm mind while playing, and as an opener, it is very important. I know how to build my innings and convert them into a big score.

Q: With the ODI World Cup scheduled for next year in India, how do you prepare yourself to be in touch with the game?

A: I keep myself prepared. I know that I have to prepare well before the tour so I always focus on my process and follow a system always. Now I’ve gotten a chance to play ODI in England, so I’ve been preparing for this. Playing more and more matches in the best possible way is the key so that you are in touch with the game.

Q: How do you keep yourself fit amidst a hectic schedule, like when it was in IPL 2022?

A: Apart from IPL, I keep my fitness on track and keep practicing so that my body works accordingly when I want it to. I feel fresh too, in that way, my body has enough time to recover and enough time to gain strength when I’m going to a tournament and these things benefit me during the matches.

Q: You ventured into philanthropy earlier this year with ‘Shikhar Dhawan Foundation’. What was the thinking behind launching this initiative?

A: Our aim is to help the people in need and give the concept of ‘humanity’ a strong boost. Shikhar Dhawan Foundation’s specific purpose is to help needy living beings. Shikhar Dhawan Foundation will adopt 11 NGOs every year, which would impact lives throughout India working on a number of social causes. This allows us to work pan-India across regions and states to cover the breadth and depth of India.

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Q: In India, there are a lot of NGOs who are doing very well. How will the Foundation stand you amongst other NGOs?

A: We want to help as many people in need as we can; my emotions are attached to every living being. I want to help the people who are homeless, provide aid to the underprivileged people and support the people living in old-age homes. I also, want to help the NGOs gain recognition for the work they do selflessly. We will act as an enabler by building the capacities of the NGOs and civil society organizations.

Q: We heard that you are going to launch something related to sports. Can you throw light on this and what you want to achieve through this?

A: Yes, I’m launching my sports organization soon. Cricket has given me so much and I want to play my part in helping the athletes in every possible way. Through ‘Da One Sports organization, I want to pass down my knowledge and experience to the younger generation. I come from a middle-class family and I’ve turned my dreams into reality with hard work and dedication.

I want every kid to know that they, too, can dream big and turn their dreams into reality. Da One Sports will ensure that quality training is provided to all and sports will be a medium to learn and grow! Da One Sports came up with a motive to provide quality training while streamlining the teaching methodologies. Overall, it will look to build a holistic approach to sports and life.

Q: What is the plan of action of the organization?

A: Every individual has a goal in my mind. Likewise, every organization has a vision to start off. Da One Sports vision is to achieve glory in sports. The motivating factor for me to launch it was the energy levels of the current generation of children! They are very energetic and enthusiastic. We are looking to associate with schools, colleges, universities, and academies to establish our age category in physical education and sports training.

Children as young as three years will be part of the program. The focus is to encourage children to do physical activities on the ground and be in touch with nature. Technology is both, a boon and a bane in today’s scenario. Da One Sports looks forward to being part of the children’s physical learning through sports and activities. The programs will have the fun element, learning, and progression. My mantra is very simple, have fun, be it in life or while playing cricket. That’s what I’ll be reflecting through my organization as well.

Q: In cricket, there has been a lot of talk about nutrition, especially on pre and post-match days. In this context, what are the differences between meals you have on match and non-match days?

A: I try to eat healthy at least 7 or 8 times out of 10. But there have been times when I’ve wanted to eat something other than just fitness food. Like, last week I had chole-bhature after a long time but I know I’ll be gone for the coming month so I won’t eat that again for some time. On match days, I prefer to keep myself light and healthy.

Q: As part of your fitness regimen, can you tell about the food items you had to add and remove?

A: I’ve had to sacrifice a lot of my favourite food items for my fitness diet. I love having dal makhani and lachha parantha but I gave it up for my fitness regime. In order to have a balanced diet, I’ve added green leafy vegetables into my diet. I had to give up fried food items too.

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