Shikhar Dhawan is back playing for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy after a while, but the India opener makes it clear that he is only another Delhi batsman here and no international star as he gears up to face the Hyderabad bowlers in Delhi's third Ranji game of the season at the Arun Jaitley Stadium from Wednesday.
Having spent quite a few years as skipper of the Delhi team before becoming a India regular, Dhawan knows the ground inside out and will once again wear the skipper's hat in this game. But for the batsman, it is about sharing his experience with the kids in the team.
"I don't think like an international star. I am very comfortable over here and I will make sure that we work as a team and I share my expertise and knowledge with them so that they are further groomed. You know my nature. If my knowledge benefits a youngster then why not," he smiled.
This very nature of his makes him a favourite with scribes and when asked if it bothers him that he is often tagged a white-ball player, Dhawan says that critics are doing a job.
"Critics do their own job and I don't ever get frustrated by that. If they feel that way, that's their opinion what can I do. In my heart I know that I have given my best. But if my best wasn't good enough for it, then it's fine, I accept it. And learn what more I can do better. When I was in England, I couldn't do well, so accepted it. I went out, not problem and I will now look to make a comeback," he pointed.
Asked if he does harbour ambition of getting back into the Test team, the opener says he wishes to be a part of the team across formats.
"Have been out for seven-eight month, might be back by the time it is a year. 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 Trophy level and can't be better that I am back here and also imparting knowledge to other kids. My goal remains to play all three formats.
"I am working on that and even now I passed the fitness test, first 20 days I couldn't walk. Then I worked on fitness. I had 27 stitches on my knees and it was a deep cut. I always enjoy challenges as I never shy away from it. I never shy away from my failures and it's always a learning experience. A learning man is always an earning man," he laughed.
A knee injury saw him out of the Indian limited-overs team and K.L. Rahul made the most of the opportunity. But Dhawan is happy for the opener.
"This is a fresh start for me. I was hit on the finger, then on the neck, bruised my eye and then 30 stitches on the knee in Gujarat. Good news is New Year is coming. Also this is part and parcel of a sportsman's life. I am happy that KL has done so well. He has grabbed the opportunity. So I am going to go and express myself," he explained.
Asked about the knee, he said: "The knee is feeling well as I have passed all the Test. Feeling well and have healed well so I am happy to go onto the field now. Injuries are but natural. You 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."
Workload management is an important issue when it comes to international cricketers and Dhawan feels that it is not fair to expect the cricketers to keep playing non-stop cricket and turn up for the state team every single time there is no international game.
"It depends if you have played a series then you need to give him rest so that he remains fresh for the next series. If you look at the big picture, when you play for India, that's the priority. We are humans and not machine so mentally and physically you need to rest and be fresh. An international player knows his responsibility and how much he can tax his body. There are times you get emotional and play for Delhi and in turn get injured and India assignment gets hampered," he pointed.
But Dhawan makes no bones about the fact that this is an important season. "This is an important season and will look to do well. If I perform well and do well in T20s against Sri Lanka, then it is the headache of the support staff (team management). It is not my job to select the team. They will do their job and I will do mine. Looking forward to scoring big runs consistently," he smiled.