Lean and strapping, his very appearance causes a stir before he has hit the first ball. Sporting earrings, twirling his moustache, and with a tattoo and bulging biceps rustling under his shirt, all topped off by a clean crew cut, Shikhar Dhawan is a powerhouse on the field and unconventionally cool off it. One of the earliest instances when his name made cricketing history was when he was the top scorer in the 2004 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh. In the news last year for being the Man of the Tournament in the Champions Trophy, this year he walked into the latest edition of the IPL as the captain of the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“Cricket was always a priority with me,” he says. “I used to play with other kids in my colony; then I joined a club and continued to play there. Studies did not really appeal to me. I used to play football, volleyball and cricket, and luckily my parents supported me when I chose to play cricket. My father had a business, so I was not pressured into looking for a job. He only insisted that I complete my education.”
He looks up to players like Matthew Hayden, Andy Flower and Sachin ‘Paaji’ (Tendulkar). Today, he is happiest when he walks out on the field to humungous chants. “I do not get stressed by pressure from the crowd,” he affirms. “I always want to do well. And when things don’t go my way, I feel dejected but I tell myself that failure is as much a reality of the sport as success is. I am mentally strong and do not crack easily.”
Off the field, he is a family man – completely devoted to his wife, Ayesha, and kids (two daughters and a baby boy) – and has a fondness for bikes.