Fractured finger, swollen neck, bruised eye and gashed knee, Shikhar Dhawan endured a painful 2019 but the opener is ready to make a fresh start after returning from injury.
Dhawan, who will be leading Delhi in their Ranji Trophy game against Hyderabad, is back after recovering from a knee injury sustained during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which required 25 stitches.
While he is back in the Indian team, he knows that the road ahead is a bit tricky with KL Rahul in imperious form in white-ball cricket.
“This is a fresh start for me,” Dhawan told reporters. He added: “I was hit on the finger, then on the neck, bruised eye and then stitches on the knee. The good news is that New Year is coming up. I am happy that KL has done so well. He has grabbed the opportunity with both hands. So I am going to go and express myself.
“Injuries are natural. You’ve got to accept that. It’s fine and I don’t create a big fuss about it. The start-stop thing doesn’t affect me as I haven’t forgotten how to bat. My class is permanent and I will score runs.”
Dhawan accepts that the Sri Lanka T20 series, from which Rohit Sharma is taking a break, will be important for him as all three openers [Dhawan, Rahul and Rohit] are available against Australia.
“This is an important season. I would like to perform well in the T20s against Sri Lanka but the selection is the team management’s headache. They will do their job and I will do mine. I am Looking forward to scoring big runs.”
The 34-year-old, who played the last of his 34 Tests back in September 2018 against England, is playing a red-ball game after a good 15 months.
With Rohit and Mayank Agarwal making the Test slots their own and Prithvi Shaw waiting for his next chance, where does Dhawan fit in?
He said: “Whether I am in Test team or not is immaterial. I know what game I have. I have scored runs in international cricket as well. I am happy to come back and play Ranji. I have grown from the Ranji level and can’t be better that I am back here and also imparting knowledge to other kids.”
Getting into the Test team will be a challenge but Dhawan says insists that he has never shied away from challenges.
“My goal is to play all three formats. I am working on that and even now, when I passed the fitness test, I couldn’t walk for the first 20 days. Then, I worked on my fitness. It was a deep cut,” Dhawan said.
“So, I always enjoy challenges as I never shy away from them. I never shy away from my failures as well. It’s always a learning experience. And as they say, ‘A learning man is always an earning man,’” Dhawan added.
There is a general feeling that India players don’t turn up enough in Ranji Trophy but Dhawan feels that it depends on the workload of the players.
“If you have played an international series, then you need to give him (a player) rest so that he remains fresh. When you play for India, that’s the priority. We are humans and not machines, so mentally and physically you need to be fresh.
“An international player knows how much he can stretch his body. There are times you get emotional and may be play for Delhi (or state team) and in turn get injured and India assignment gets hampered.”