Relaxed Dhawan preaches patience at Basin

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
Shikhar Dhawan
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
YES, COACH: Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan absorbs the advice of coach Duncan Fletcher, whose image is reflected in his sunglasses, at the Basin Reserve yesterday.

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Late, straight and she'll be right.

To some, the Basin Reserve test strip looks more paddock than pitch.

There's certainly no doubt it's been green in the leadup to the second and final test between New Zealand and India. It's unlikely to be the same colour this morning, not that grass cover often means much at the Basin.

If it's hard, and this one reportedly is, then the pitch is unlikely to go sideways. As for swing? Well, that's up to each team's bowlers.

It seems like it would take a lot to worry Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan. With his carefully cultivated facial hair, silver hoops in each ear and serpent-like tattoo snaking up his left leg, he hardly had a care in the world as he and his jandals slip-slapped their way out of yesterday's pre-test press conference.

A Kiwi green seamer is generally regarded as cricket's equivalent of a date with the firing squad for sub-continental batsmen. Not that it's got Dhawan cowering.

"They basically have been bowling good line and length, so you basically have to play close to your body and more straight," Dhawan said of facing what will be a five-pronged Black Caps pace attack.

"The ball swings at the start and you don't get too much runs, so you have to be extra patient over here. Once you get set, you can get big runs."

Getting in has definitely been Dhawan's problem, with the first 20 balls of most batsmen's innings' tricky during the first test at Eden Park. But Dhawan made a concerted effort to rein in his shot-making tendencies in the second innings at Auckland, making what could have been a match-winning hundred.

"I was more calm and I thought to play as straight as possible. These wickets over here, they are double-paced, especially with the short ball," said Dhawan.

"So I planned to play straight and to enjoy just being at the wicket."

It's advice the odd team-mate might want to heed. The Basin will always retain pace and carry, but it does flatten out and give batsmen good value for their shots.

There have been times during this tour when you've wondered whether India, for all their flashes of brilliance, have had their hearts in it. But, having lost by just 40 runs at Eden Park, Dhawan claimed there was plenty of resolve left in the side.

"Of course we can stay sad for a bit, but then we overcome those things and there's always a new day. So we start working hard again and focus on the positive things and stay positive that we're going to play good cricket in the coming match and win for our team."

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