Exclusive: Dhawan on how he met his wife, mocking Watson and the moustache
Shikhar Dhawan talks about everything under the sun with Dennis Freedman in this freewheeling interview.
India opener Shikhar Dhawan has some time on his hands since he is being rest for the Zimbabwe tour. That allowed Dennis Freedman, of Dennis Does Cricket fame, to catch up with Dhawan at his home in Melbourne for an hour long chat that covers everything from how he met his wife Ayesha to his spectacular Test debut and how he takes care of the best moustache in cricket
Dennis: I take you back to Mohali 2013, India are 2-0 up in the four-Test series against Australia. They are outplaying their guests in every facet of the game. Making his debut is a man by the name of Shikhar Dhawan. He is not necessarily young. He hits the crease at the age of 28. Australia have batted first in the match making a respectable 408 and it's the number that will forever be remembered by cricket enthusiast for a more solemn reason. Phillip Hughes, Ed Cowan, Steven Smith all make fifties. Mitchell Starc makes 99 before Ishant Sharma gets him out. No other Aussie batsman makes it past 9 runs so perhaps the pitch is not quite a batsman's paradise? Enter Mr. Shikhar Dhawan - 100 off 84 balls, the fastest Test debut century ever. 187 runs later off only 174 balls - a new star is born. Driving, cutting, pulling, flicking the ball off his pads, deft knocks and leg glances and a record opening stand of nearly 300 with Vijay. But it so nearly could have ended without a ball was bowled, can you recall why?
Dhawan: Ya I remember it. I guess I was out of the crease and Mitchell Starc missed the ball from the hands and it went to the stumps. Did it go onto the stumps or not?
Dennis: That's right, before he bowled the first ball of the match, Starc ran in and the ball slipped out of his hands, it hit the stumps and you were out of your crease.
Dhawan: And ya then he just passed me a smile. And the good thing in the cricket fraternity is that everyone plays in that sportsman spirit. I haven't seen anyone these days getting the batsman out that way.
Dennis: Senanayake and Jos Buttler?
Dhawan: Did he do that? I didn't see that.
Dennis: You could have been first guy on debut who could have been mankaded for a diamond duck (Laughs)
Dhawan: I still remember even my ODI debut was against Australia that was in I guess Vishakapatnam. That time I was about 24-25 and as a young cricketer I wanted to score runs and I went and I got out off the second ball. I was out on 0 and I was smiling while walking back. I was like "It was a big dream and I got something different."
Dennis: Thank you so much for inviting me into your home. You live in Melbourne. But I am going to come back on that in a minute and later test your knowledge on how well you know Melbourne.
Your first Test was the famous homework gate Test in Mohali. Where Watson, Pattinson, Johnson and Khawaja all were naughty boys. (Dhawan laughs "yeah true" ) And the first day of the Test was also lost to rain. Australia had made 400 on the 2nd day. What are your memories from that first Test. Were there nerves built up.? Can you tell us the story of your call-up , how you knew you are going to play and what unfolded in those first moments.
Dhawan: When the tour started, I was sitting out as Viru bhai was playing so I didn't even think that I am going make it to the Test side. But when I heard about the call-up news I was very happy. I was working very hard and I was being positive that whenever I will get a chance I will make it big and as you said, I was doing my homework very very nicely. I know you used the word for them. And yes, I knew I am going to face quick fast bowlers because we were playing Australia. The Mohali Test came and they told me I was going to play and I was very happy. And before I went to the crease, I was very nervous because it was a very big match for me and I wanted to make it big and yeah, once I got settled on the crease, I just went into that zone and I was enjoying playing my shots.
Dennis: How did you get the news that you were going to play for the mighty Indian team.
Dhawan: Actually I was playing a match that day and it was the Irani Trophy match in Mumbai. While fielding, the umpire got the news that I am in the side from the radio I guess. Then one of my team-mates told me that you have made it to the side. So I was very happy.
Dennis: Did you party, did you celebrate. What did you do?
Dhawan: Nah, no party. I called my wife straightaway that moment and then I shared the news and she was very happy. She has always been very supportive along with my parents and family. I just relaxed as I was supposed to get up early the next day and go for the match.
Dennis: Fantastic. Tell me I have never made a debut in front of the Indian crowd, may be one day who knows? What's the feeling like when you walk out in front of a full house cheering and then there is the Australian team that is a big team with big names. What the feeling like?
Dhawan: It was a great feeling. Of course, it's a great feeling to play in my country in front of my people. And yeah as Indian fans are very loud and the vibe is very strong. It's always loud and you can't hear anything. It's a great feeling and it's full of joy you know, I was very happy that I was representing my country and I fulfilled my dream and I was thankful to god for fulfilling my dream.
Dennis: I remember I was at a friend's house in the suburb of Melbourne watching you destroy Australia. And I wasn't very happy at that time. But you played a very fluent game. If I could recall, it was an Indian version of David Warner or a Michael Slater type innings where you just came out fearlessly and took on the bowling and Australia when they were down. Was that a deliberate ploy or your natural game. Is your natural game now to attack?
Dhawan: It totally depends on the wicket because in north India, I come from Delhi. In Delhi the wickets have low bounce, specially Mohali didn't turn that big like Chennai or Hyderabad. So I knew the track and how it's going to play. So it suited my game more to that particular period and once I went and started middling the ball nicely, sometime you can sense it. And there was one moment that my bat flow was so strong, I wanted to control it and I couldn't. So I thought rather than control it, just go with the flow, let's see what happens. Then boundaries kept on coming. The good thing about Australia that day was they didn't keep any fielder back, so that way I got lots of boundaries and I scored runs quickly. I play normally like this only.
Dennis: You faced Xavier Doherty who may not be the strongest bowler. Who else was bowling?
Dhawan: Mitchell Starc was there.
Dhawan: No Pattinson wasn't there. Starc, then Siddle was there.
Dennis: Watson? No he missed with the homework gate.
Dennis: Moises Henriques.
Dhawan: Yeah Henriques, Lyon the off-spinner and then Xavier Doherty. It was a turning track and of course they needed two spinners out there.
Dennis: Let's move now, let's talk a little bit about your family and Melbourne. You have a lovely family with three kids and your wife. And the dog has been rampaging around. I hear Harbhajan helped you meet your wife? Can you tell us that story?
Dhawan: Yeah, actually from his Facebook friend list, I saw Ayesha's profile picture. I really liked it and I just sent her a request as she is a beautiful girl and I would like to get in touch with her. And then she didn't add me for a month or something and when she added me, straight on we started chatting. First chatting was nice and light and in second chatting, we were laughing so much. Our hobbies, our thinking was matching a lot. I called Ayesha my .... there is one tv channel called Sahara Tv.... So I used to call her that. Because she used to make me laugh so much, so she was my tv channel, entertainer.
Dennis: And she is sitting here and laughing at you now...
Dhawan: Yeah...She is remembering the good days.
Dennis: We were talking before you went on air, that she grew up in Noble Park which is a low economic demographic of Melbourne. I grew up in the suburb next door in Springvale so I can understand why you fell in love with her. She is a boxer right?
Dhawan: She used to do boxing, not anymore though. It's good that she is into fitness, she loves fitness and of course it motivates me too. Of course I love my fitness. Still when you have a partner doing fitness, you enjoy and sometimes If I wanna laze around, she just pulls me up and says let's go to the gym together, you train me. That's how I end up going to the gym and I train myself also.
Dennis: So why did you guys choose Melbourne?
Dhawan: Because she's been living here from 25 years. Of course my kids have been born and brought up here. I end up coming here. It's a nice city. The weather is really nice. Of course, you cannot predict the Melbourne weather. Before I go out, I check the weather report so that I can get myself prepared.
Dennis: How long have you been here?
Dhawan: It's been three to four years and yeah I like it in the suburbs. It's more open and quite so I like that because I am always living in the hotels and in the cities.
Dennis: Yeah, I live out of suburbs as well, so I understand the peace and quiet. Tell me the difference, I have lived in both Delhi and Melbourne like you, probably in the reverse amount of years as you, what do you think is the big difference in Melbourne and Delhi.
Dhawan: Of course the population. (Dennis laughs). Delhi's population is equal to Australia. I love India, of course India is my country, my soil and of course nothing comes before India. And I love Delhi, and as you said you have lived here in Delhi, so must have enjoyed the busyness?
Dennis: No... [laughs]
Dhawan: Well, we do because over there my friends come over anytime. The culture is different over there and I have got all my relatives over there, my grandmom so I visit their house whenever I want. I grew up there so I have attachments with Delhi and same way now I live in Melbourne so whenever I want to have my own peaceful time, I come over here when I don't want to meet too many people.
Dennis: How do you find that - I guess as a gora walking around Delhi that time, I found it hard. I was here with my wife and we had people following us and I had to learn some hindi. "Kyaa dekh rahe?" How did you find it here in Melbourne, obviously a world famous Indian cricketer, there's is a big Indian expat population here in Melbourne. The nearest Westfield shopping center is full of Indian people, I read somewhere that's where you shop. Do you get hassled here or the Melbornians give you peace, quite and your space?
Dhawan: It's peaceful over here. Still when I got to the mall, people recognise me over here and come up to me and ask me for pictures and autographs. And I like it because that's a reward. And I always appreciate that they appreciate my work and that's why they are coming to meet me.
Dennis: What do you think, Ayesha doesn't have a problem when they are hounding her husband?
Dhawan: She's always been supportive and if we are getting very late for something then we have to rush, otherwise yeah....it's ok.
Dennis: So I have to look out for you at Westfield because I also shop there. [laughs.....]
Dhawan: Yeah...it's a nice mall. It's Fountain Gate.... that's what you call it....
Dennis: Yeah, Fountain Gate.
Dennis: So Shikhar, you've been living here in Melbourne, you said you've been here for three or four years. I have a little test for you a quiz. We are going to see how well does Shikhar Dhawan know Melbourne.
Dennis: You ready? I will get out my little clock, you are on a timer.
Dhawan: In how many seconds do I have to give the answer?
Dennis: You'll hear the buzzer. Alright here's the first question. What is a 'myki' and have you ever used one?
Dhawan: My key......Aaaaaaaa. No I haven't used. I have used 'mate' not my key.
Buzzer goes...Dennis: Myki is the ticketing system for public transport. You have never caught a train?
Dennis: Can you explain the difference between a 'Flat white' and a 'Latte'?
Dhawan: Flat white and a Latte???....Aaaa cafe Latte is a milky coffee (Buzzer goes off) . I haven't tried flat white.
Dennis: I don't know the answer either. I am looking for somebody to tell me. [Laughs]
Dennis: Which AFL team relocated to Sydney?
Dhawan: I haven't watched AFL that closely.
Dennis: No good?
Dhawan: No good....
Dennis: (Buzzer goes off.....) It's the Sydney Swans.
Dennis: What is known as a 'W' class?
Dhawan: Thinks.... W class........ My wife might know this...
Dennis: She's run away. She would have loved this. It's a tram, it's an old tram.
Dennis: Come on, this one you should know. What two train stations can you get off to be at the MCG?
Buzzer goes off
Dennis: Richmond and Jollimont.
Dhawan: Richmond and which one?
Dennis: What is the name Makybi Diva famous for?
Dhawan: Makybi Diva......
Dennis: Makybi Diva......
Dhawan: Nah...... (Laughs). I guess I will be the first one who doesn't know all the answers.
Dennis: There are people out there pulling their hair out. It's the horse that won three Melbourne Cups in a row.
Dennis: Okay, come on, this one, this is a sporting one. Where is the F1 Grand Prix held? In which suburb?
Buzzer goes off (Laughs all around)
Dennis: Albert Park. Shikhar, This is a disgrace come on......Who does Billy Slater play for?
Dhawan: Billy Slater...........................
(Buzzer goes off) Dennis: No, there's a buzzer going off every time. It's the Melbourne Storm. I am going to give you one you can get right.
Dennis: Last question. In which suburb of Melbourne is Vegemite still made?
Dhawan: Vegemite still made......
Laughs all around......
Dhawan: There you go nice question......
Dennis: Well done Shikhar, you are proving yourself to be a true Melbornian. Have you eaten a pie?
Dawan: A pie?
Dennis: Meat pie?
Dhawan: Chicken pie
Dennis: You've heard a chicken pie?
Dhawan: Yeah, I have heard of a chicken pie not of meat
Dennis: Not a four 'n' twenty [It's a brand of meat pie - Ed]?
Dhawan: No I don't eat meat so......
Dennis: Ah! Stupid question really, wasn't it?
Dhawan: No I like chicken.
Dennis: I had a look at your stats? You are one of those rare individuals that has an ODI batting average that's higher that the Test average. The only other of that note I could find is Hashim Amla. So you are in a good company. Why do you think that is?
Dhawan: I feel.....Just that I have played more ODIs than Test matches. And with time you get experienced and then you get to know your game better and then I guess the averages also start getting better. You have to give time to get yourself settled in international circuit because it's only been two years that I have been playing consistently for Indian team. So now I feel I have got that maturity.
The Dog interrupts.....
Dhawan: You want to send him off?
Dennis: No you can keep him here, I can pat him....
Dhawan: So I have got the maturity and I now I know my game better. I have played 62 ODIs now and 14 or 15 Tests so it takes a bit of time to get matured.
Dennis: Do you prepare differently for a Test match and an ODI?
Dhawan: Yeah, I do prepare differently. Of course I have to leave more balls in the nets to get my body muscles used to it. Because you never know what situation's going to come in. Sometimes in Tests I have scored runs at a good pace, sometimes you have to have that patience, you have to have that habit to stay at the crease when the opposition is bowling really well. So I practice both the things and make myself well prepared.
Dennis: So tell me what happened in the ODI series in Bangladesh compared to the Test where you made 170 something. But the ODIs were a bit of a surprise I think in terms of the result.
Dennis: Was there something going on differently? Was the mood different in the team? Or did you underestimate Bangladesh? I mean they are WC quarterfinalists so they are not a shabby team.
Dhawan: Yeah, Bangladesh have been doing really good in ODIs and in their own backyard they know the wicket very well. We guys got together as a ODI team after two months of IPL and of course I felt there were lots of factors because we didn't play that good cricket. The teams is very strong in ODIs especially and yeah there were other factors as we guys have been playing cricket for a long time so the boys were tired and so I guess all those things played a role in the defeat. Of course it was saddening for us that we lost the series but still Bangladesh played good cricket.
Dennis: Is there any players in the Bangladesh side that you can see coming through and will be more household names may be in some of the countries outside the subcontinent. Obviously Shakib is the one - the all-rounder. But are there any other talents we should be looking out for in the future?
Dhawan: Yeah their fast bowlers are very good. Rubel is good and even Taskin is good and the fellow who performed really well it he World Cup, he scored three centuries..what's his name, I am not recollecting.
Dennis: You caught me there....Mah.....Mahmudull.......(Laughs)
Dhawan: I am not good at remembering names......
Dennis: Mahmudullah? Mahmudullah?
Dhawan: I am not good at remembering names......I feel yeah Bangladesh are a very good balanced side and they got good all-rounders now. And if you see they are slowly climbing up the stairs.
Dennis: You mentioned that there is a difference between how you prepare and for Tests. Which one is the priority? Is Test cricket is still the priority for India or the world has moved on to ODIs and T20Is with the success of IPL. Is that more glamorous that side of things or will we see Test cricket may be come back in terms of popularity. Because India had quite a break between Test matches and there is commentary out in the market about the natural tendency of the Indian cricketers to focus towards obviously IPL and ODIs. What are your thoughts?
Dhawan: No, I feel as a cricketer we love to play all kind of formats. It's more of a public opinion, I don't know public likes to watch just ODIs and T20s.....And I feel that we guys have been playing lots of Test cricket. We were in England for two and a half months and then we were in Australia for 4-5 Test matches. And Yeah....I feel that Indian board is promoting Test cricket and as players we all want to play Test cricket because we all know that Test cricket is the main test for cricketers to show their talent and worth.
Dennis: So do you feel that international cricketers judges each other based on Test performances? Is that what you are saying? In terms of looking back are Test performances the ones that are the premium outcomes?
Dhawan: It depends on individual, what they think. Somebody thinks Test cricket is the top most thing. It totally depends..Some players are really good in ODI formats and some are not really that great in Test cricket. So everyone has their own strengths, strong things and weak things.
Dennis: I want to take you back to the last England tour. I wrote a piece at that time on MS Dhoni's brilliance. If you remember the Lord's Test, he made Ishant Sharma bounce England with a ball which was past its use-by date. He was standing back from the stumps to allow no byes and keep the pressure on. And you won that Test and it was an amazing performance from India but then you lost the next three and along the way, you lost your place in the side. Reflecting back on that, what changed, how did India go from such a high to then lose the next three?
Dhawan: I felt that we didn't take that many wickets. We didn't get them out as they scored lots of runs. And of course when you bat second then if suppose the team has batted for two days or something then you are coming on the third day, it's going to turn and the wicket changes also. So that's what happened with us and I feel that as a Test team, our experience is not that much because it's still a new side so it's going to take a bit of time. Like when we played against England if you count their total matches as a team, they were 400 and we were 200. That's a big difference. And as we all are new players in the side, few of them, so it takes time to get settled and get going. That's what I think.
Dennis: Okay, so a bit of inexperience. So if I logically take it forward to next 18 months, what do you think the team and you personally may have learnt through these experiences because you did very well in the World Cup and the teams going well now, looks fairly settled.
Dhawan: If you see before the World Cup, we didn't win a single match and when the World Cup came, we guys won seven matches on a trot. So it was a very big thing. As a One-day team, we guys are quite experienced and we are a very strong side. And in Tests, the more we are going to play, the more we are going to get experienced. I feel with time we have matured and now we guys are going to go to Sri Lanka so all the boys will be fresh as we've got a month break. That's a very good thing for us and hopefully now it's the time to win overseas.
Dennis: That's the next thing isn't it? Sri Lanka will be a good test but no Sangakkara...Ah! No he is playing the first two Tests. Might be a nice experience for you I think being able to send him off, he's a legend of the game.
Dhawan: Yeah, of course sure. He is one of the greatest batsman in the cricket fraternity and he's very good friend of mine so it will be very nice to send him off.
Dennis: Well, he spends a bit of time in Melbourne I believe. There's a big Sri Lankan community here. If we look forward towards the end of your career (We are getting hijacked by the kids. This is nice..laughs) If we look forward towards the end of your career. I don't know 5-6 or 7 years however long is left, what does success look like for you? How will you look back and think I achieved something great?
Dhawan: I just want to keep performing well for my side and I want to be at the same pace of the game to keep my fitness level up and I just want to be happy in the whole journey that's the most important thing. I am living my dream. Of course things never remain same, there will be ups and downs. My belief is to just stay happy, take the failures the way I take success. Once I finish my career, I'll e happy that I lived that journey and I will get ready for another one.
Dennis: And...The Ashes are coming. It's a little bit unfair that there are only two teams that can ever play this event. But what are your thoughts? What's going to happen?
Dhawan: Of course, I can feel the vibes in Australia about the Ashes. I fell it's going to be a good challenging series for Australia because the conditions are going to be very different over there. It's going to swing and seam. So I feel that it's going to be very challenging for the Aussie batsmen. And of course Australia have always got really good pace attack and they will hit back at the England batsmen.
Dennis: Okay. How do you think will Mitchell Starc go? In the World Cup he was the player of the tournament. He came from no where really. Do you think he will be able to hold up with the red ball?
Dhawan: I think he will because he's been bowling really good. As you said in the World Cup, he was bowling really well. You could tell that he was bowling differently than the other bowlers. And of course, he must have taken that confidence with him. Even in West Indies he was bowling good. I didn't see the matches, I just saw the highlights where I saw him getting wickets. So yeah, I feel that he can be the X-factor in the Ashes.
Dennis: We touched on the fact that there is no Ashes per say for India. What is the biggest Test series that India plays? Is it against England or Australia? Would you like it to be against Pakistan again? What are your thoughts?
Dhawan: Of course, India-Pakistan is always the biggest rivalry in the world. We would like to play against Pakistan. When you play the matches against a team which is strong as you or more stronger then the competition goes very high so that's what we love and yes when we play against England, Australia, South Africa, we feel the pressure and excitement at the same time.
Dennis: You could see that the Indian team in Australia really rise to the challenge especially Virat Kohli in the Test series. He came into his own and I think Australia warmed to him because he showed a bit of mongrel, little bit of fight and we like guys like that. Are you feeling that is the fight from Kohli coming through onto the other players?
Dhawan: He's a controlled aggressive person and that's what his character is. As a captain also he is very active on the field which is a good thing. He sets an example, he is really fit so he is doing his fitness in everything. So all the boys look up to him and do all that stuff.
Dennis: I saw him in Melbourne, I saw him leave a restaurant and I did a fan thing and took a selfie with him. He is actually quite short and small for what you expect, he is a tiny little thing, very powerful.
Dhawan: Yeah, very powerful. He's got lots of power. He likes to play cricket that way. Even the Aussies like to play that way and get into the opposition. And yeah we enjoy that thing. That's the beauty of cricket. Like in our team Virat is like that you know he is aggressive. If you see Pujara, he is very calm so...You need different kind of characters in the side to make a team. Every individual has his own role.
Dennis: May be the English could learn from that (Laughs...). So you live in Melbourne, how do you train and keep contact with your teammates back in India. I am assuming that there is no coach from BCCI looking after you and keeping you in the mold of what's going on. How do you stay connected?
Dhawan: I do my own training over here. I have hired a trainer so I train with him and then I know lots of coaches over here so when I need to go for practice, I go for net practice.
Dennis: Where do you go?
Dhawan: Last time when I was here, I went to the MCG. I was practicing at MCG with Simon who is the assistant coach for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He's a coach with Simon Helmuth. Then there's Sri Lankan coach called Owen McDowell. He works in Dandenong. This time I will be working with them.
Dhawan: Yeah. Are you living in India? It's Australia here man! And you are saying that you should allow her!
Dennis: You always have to ask the boss, isn't it (Laughs)
Dhawan: IPL is a great platform for everyone. Specially for the Indian domestic players, those who learn and share dressing rooms with such great players and of course IPL is great for all the other overseas players too. They have made comebacks in their respective teams or made debuts for their countries. So it's great for everyone.
Dennis: What's your favourite car?
Dhawan: I like GL - 350 Mercedes.
Dennis: Very good. Is there one in the garage?
Dhawan: Yeah, back home in Delhi.
Dennis: Finally, Day / Night Tests, is it going to be a good thing or a bad thing?
Dhawan: I feel it's going to be a good thing. You always try new things and yeah, I hope that it going to be good fun.
Dennis: Time for some listener questions Shikhar. I asked the audience to send in some stuff. Some of them I can't ask you (Laughs)
Dennis: The first question comes from Gautam Gang. [Dennis reads...]"My question for Shikhar is how on earth did Dennis manage to convince you for a interview. Also have you followed any of his previous work?"
Dhawan: Alright! I guess Gagan did everything.
Dennis: So Gagan is your manager, he is a nice guy....
Dennis: Thank you Gagan, I know he's going to listen to this. He says send it to me when we are done. (Laughs)
Dennis: Gautam also recorded a question for you. Question: "Have you been taking any boxing lessons from your wife who we know is a professional boxer and who do you think would win in a bout between yourself and David Warner?"
Dhawan: No, Ayesha never teaches my boxing.
Dennis: Who's going to win between you and Warner?
Dhawan: Of course I am going to win.
Dennis: yeah good man....(Laughs)
Dennis: Gautam had another question. He asked how does opening the batting with Warner in the IPL different from opening with Rohit Sharma, or Ajinkya Rahane or Vijay?
Dhawan: It was great batting with Davey. He is one of the blasting batsman in T20s. Specially in this IPL he played amazingly. He was giving great starts. As his partner, you don't really feel any pressure because he is hitting so many runs in an over so you don't need to take that risk. I was enjoying his company at the crease and we had a really great partnership.
Dennis: I have one here from Tariq Engineer from Mumbai. Question: Dhoni and Kohli have very different styles of captaincy, how did you adjust from one style to another?
Dhawan: I feel it just comes naturally to me. I am a very flexible person so I don't have one particular way. If there are two different cricketers, I can match with both of them.
Dennis: Gavin has sent a question via Twitter. Question: What do you feel about the DRS? Is it time India jumped on board?
Dhawan: That's our board's call. And whatever out board says we will follow that.
Dennis: Do you have a personal view?
Dhawan: I wouldn't want to comment on that.
Dennis: I'll share mine and you can nod or shake. I think it's not been good for the game. I would like to have faith in the umpire. Out, not out off you go......
Dennis: Kavita Jha on Facebook says "There has been a lot of off field issues in Indian cricket lately, we don't need to name them. Is any of it distracting?"
Dhawan: First of all I don't know the issues.
Dennis: Mudgal, the West Indies leaving the Indian tour, Lalit Modi with accusations on teammates and so forth?
Dhawan: No, nothing.
Dennis: Just water off the duck's back?
Dennis: Venkatash Prapanjan on email says "what did it feel like hitting your first World Cup century against South Africa at home, I mean the MCG, 80,000 people when it was crazy loud?"
Dhawan: It was an amazing feeling. Of course MCG is special because I and my life live here and it's more special for my wife and my family who are here. And it was amazing because out of 80,000 people, 70,000 were Indians. They were supporting us, it's a huge thing that you see so many Indians in Australia and supporting the Indian team. It was a great feeling. As a cricketer I felt really good because when you come overseas, you want to prove your worth, you want to prove your mettle and when I did it, I was happy that I knew that with the skill that I had, I could perform in Australia too as I had a bit patchy period. I hadn't done well in the Australia series and yeah so I was very happy.
Dennis: Do you feel when you here that Melbourne is your home or is it still a home away from home and Delhi is still really your home?
Dhawan: Wherever my wife and kids are there, that's my home.
Dennis: That's very nice. She's smiling, she just did the tick sign (Laughs). She is well trained ha? (Laughs again)
Dennis: AJ Roberts asks "with the Melbourne home and best mustache in cricket can we expect a man bun?"
Dhawan: Man bun?
Dennis: The hair tied up in a ponytail on your head.
Dhawan: Ah...If I would have had silky hair, I would have tried that stuff but I don't have that. So I feel, this hairstyle is good for me.
Dennis: Tell us about that mustache a little bit. It's the best mustache in cricket for a long, long time. Not since Allan Border back in those days that we had seen someone with some good facial hair. Does it take much time, do you put a bit of wax, how do you look after it?
Dhawan: Ya, I put a bit a wax when I go out and I just want then to be up, I don't want them to go down so I put wax. In India specially, if you go to north India, you see people having mustache over there so when I used to see that it used to charm me. It's like a manly thing so from big businessman to a truck drivers, everyone had that stuff. So I like that stuff.
Dennis: It's cultural?
Dhawan: Yeah it's cultural. And I didn't know that it's going to get that famous. I just did it because I felt happy.
Dennis: You should come out with a brand of mustache wax and some things when you retire....
Dhawan: You are giving me good ideas (laughs). As I said I can be a good businessman so may be....
Dennis: We will work together....
Dhawan: Always man. (Laughs)
Dennis: I have got a recorded question from Bryant Howie. Question: "Do you have any regrets over mocking Watson's injury during that 2013 ODI series? And do you still smile when you think of that incident? "
Dhawan: I don't have regrets doing that. I still remember when he was bowling to me, he hit me under my chest on the stomach, and he smiled at me and said, " Yeah, did you enjoy the pain?" I smiled back at him and he knows how to do it. And then I did it in more smarter way and he knew what I did.
Dennis: It was pretty funny.
Dhawan: And the best thing was I made him react to it.
Dennis: What's your views on sledging? You know James Anderson has come out in the last few weeks and said maybe we should put sledging away and it's not for him anymore but Australia has a reputation for using sledging to try and put the opposition off their game. What are your thoughts?
Dhawan: See, every country has a different culture and the way they are brought up. Like Aussies are brought up in a bit more aggressive way, not in bad way, just in a normal way. In India, every state have different bringing up. If you see north Indians are aggressive while south Indians are not that aggressive. So every state has different culture. I don't think it's a bad thing, till the time it's in limit. If you see New Zealanders they don't even sledge one word. You need to have little bit of everything that makes the best team.
Dennis: That's good, So when you play Shane Watson again.........
Dhawan: I played against him after that incident a lot of times. It's good, it's always on with him. And off the field, we talk and we are just normal friends.
Dennis: Last question. It's from Lata Venkatraman. Question: "Dear Shikhar please tell the cricket world, why are you not so successful while playing spinners. Even after getting set. Especially against quality spinners and how would you play Yasir Shah?"
Dhawan: I would play who?
Dennis: Yasir Shah....The Pakistan leg spinner.
Dhawan: Alright...First of all, I will see when the series in coming. (Laughs).
Dennis: Because your next spinning challenge is Herath. He is a good bowler.
Dhawan: I feel, I play spinners decently. I don't know what flaw they saw in my batting. I personally feel I play spinners very well. And yeah, I have been scoring runs consistently and doing good.
Dennis: What's the key to playing spinners well? Is there something in the technique or mental approach you take while playing a spinner versus a quick bowler?
Dhawan: Spinners...It's just that when it's turning so we play with the turn and not try to play against the turn because as a batsman you need to full face of the bat to the ball which is the basic thing. When it's turning , you cut off few things. Like if I am playing off spin, I won't step out much because it's turning so it's going to get me stumped. Then if you play sweep then it is a very good option. You keep on learning, adding stuff and keep on upgrading.
Dennis: We've now hit that part of the show, it's called the Scott Muller award. You might have not heard of Scott Muller? He was an Australian Test bowler, he played only two Tests, both with Shane Warne. And after the second Test, the stump mic picked up Shane Warne, or he says the cameraman saying - This guy Scott Muller "can't bowl and he can't throw." That's where the name of our show comes from. What the award is for every week is for the most under appreciated act in the world of cricket for the week. So I am going to give you some nominations and you have to choose the one that you think is the best.
The first one goes out to Ryan Harris' knees for not being able to take him through the Ashes. What are your thoughts on Ryan Harris, have you faced him?
Dhawan: Yeah, I have faced him. I would say he was one of the best Test bowlers for the Australian side. He had been doing consistently well with his bowling and I feel that of course as a bowler you end up getting a lot of injuries. It's not easy being a fast bowler. He is getting old, he is 35 or what?
Dennis: I am 39, that's not old.... (Laughs)
Dhawan: That's old for a fast bowler.
Dennis: That's the first nomination, we are nominating his knees and the second nomination goes to your IPL teammate David Warner for reliving his incident with Joe Root during the week and saying what he thought happened. Joe Root then came out and said it's all lies and that's not how he remembered it. Why did he go back and open that can of worms?
Dhawan: I don't know...You will have to ask him only (Laughs all around). I read it actually and that's the thought that came in my mind.
Dennis: I don't expect Jadeja to come out next summer and talk about Anderson pushing him. It's not going to happen right? (Laughs). You can nod for me. Did you see it? Just nod or shake your head.
Dhawan: Yeah. (Laughs all around)
Dennis: So, the second nomination goes to Dave Warner your friend. The third one goes to South Africa, you might not have heard this? They are over there in Bangladesh for the series and they took a drone. A remote controlled drone to the field to try and take some vision of the players playing. The problem is they launched the drone in a military no flight zone. They got in trouble with the military and got asked not to fly the drone any more. So the lesson there is for all touring parties to check with the military.
Dhawan: Yeah, that's the basic stuff.
Dennis: South Africa get the third nomination and James Faulkner gets the fourth.
Dhawan: For drinking and driving....
Dennis: Yeah for drinking and driving, naught boy ha.....Not something you would do. Do you drink?
Dhawan: Yeah I drink.
Dhawan: I drink vodka.
Dennis: Vodka, straight?
Dhawan: Vodka with.....
Dennis: Juice? Coke? Soda water?
Dhawan: It's water and what's that thing (trying to recall the name), it's a very nice thing.
Dennis: It's vodka it doesn't matterwith what you drink. But you don't drive?
Dhawan: We don't drink and drive...
Dennis: So James Faulkner gets a nomination. It's so sad because potentially he could have got called up with Ryan Harris going down. But he wasted his one phone call in jail, having to call his lawyer. He could have called Boof Lehmann instead and said he was available but he had no phone calls left. (Laughs). So you have four nominations here - Ryan Harris' knee, your friend Dave Warner, the South African team for flying the drone and James Faulkner. Who wins the Scott Muller award?
Dennis: You have to pick some one, you can't sit on the fence.
Dhawan: I think South Africa for that drone thing and they don't know it's a military thing.
Dennis: Ayesha is in the background, just for the listeners saying "James Faulkner, we should teach a good lesson to the kiddies." We should teach the kiddies drink and drive is not good and you have gone...you are such a diplomat Shikhar. Anyway, congratulations to South Africa winner of the Scott Muller award this week for flying that drone in a military no-fly zone.
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