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India opener Shikhar Dhawan has played against the best of the best, but out of all the players he has seen, who is his favourite batsman?
Dhawan revealed the special honour goes to South Africa’s AB de Villiers as he was not only an outstanding batsman, but also a great leader.
Dhawan’s tribute to De Villiers comes after the 34-year-old shocked the cricketing world by announcing his retirement from international cricket last week.
“AB de Villiers. He’s a great batsman and more than that he’s a gem of a person too. A great leader,” Dhawan told the Times of India as quoted by Cricbuzz. “I have learnt a lot of things by just watching him. I’m happy that I played against him.”
Meanwhile, Dhawan will be gearing up for the historic Test against Afghanistan, who will be making their debut in the longest format in Bangalore on June 14.
Having played alongside Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan for the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the recently concluded edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Dhawan knows the threat the 19-year-old poses, but insists that he is looking forward to the challenge.
“When I played him for the first time, I found him tough to deal with,” he said. “However, now I’m used to playing him. If I play (in the XI), it’ll be a good challenge to play against him. I’ll look forward to scoring runs off him!”
Following their one-off Test against Afghanistan, India will be heading to England, where they will play thee Twenty20 Internationals, three ODIs and five Tests.
When asked if India’s pace attack will fare a lot better in comparison to the national team’s last tour of England in 2014, Dhawan said: “Yes, our team is experienced. Our bowlers are fit. Bhuvneshwar (Kumar) has been rested for the Test against Afghanistan, so he’ll be fresh for England.
“We have other quality bowlers too. So, our bowling and batting both are good. Of course, the English wickets offer a different challenge. The faster we adapt to English conditions, the better it will be.
“We have to be good in all the departments, and that includes slip catching as well. England is a formidable side at home. We’ve to play exceptional cricket to beat them.”
In 2014, India lost the five-Test series 3-1 and Dhawan was dropped after the third Test as he only scored 122 runs at an average of 20.33.
The 32-year-old conceded that he failed to have an impact with the bat four years ago, but pointed out that he is looking to put up a much stronger performance this time around.
“Absolutely. That tour wasn’t great, but I learnt a lot from that,” he said. “Now, I’m going to play in England after four years. I’ve gained a lot of experience in this period. I’m a better player than what I was the first time. I’m confident that this time, I’ll do well by the grace of God. Hopefully, things will go my way.”