Senior India batter Shikhar Dhawan was a "bit shocked" at his exclusion from India's Asian Games squad but remains determined to make a national comeback in the near future.
With the first-choice players busy with preparation for the ODI World Cup at home, the BCCI named a squad full of youngsters for the Hangzhou Asian Games in September-October.
The 37-year-old left-hander was tipped to lead the second-string India team in China, a role he performed until 10 months ago, but the selectors did not pick him and named Ruturaj Gaikwad as captain.
"When my name was not there (for Asian Games), I was a bit shocked. But, then, I was like they have a different thought process, you just have to accept it. Happy that Rutu (Gaikwad) will lead the side. All the young boys are there, I am sure they will do well," Dhawan told PTI on Thursday.
With Shubman Gill joining Rohit Sharma at the top, it seems the Indian team has moved on from Dhawan, who had become a one-format player until he was dropped from the ODI side following the Bangladesh tour in December 2022.
The ever-optimistic Dhawan, who has been among India's leading ODI batters over the past decade, said he can't foresee what is in store for him but will be ready if an opportunity knocks on the door.
"I will be ready, of course (for the comeback). That is why I keep myself fit (so whenever I get a chance I am ready). There is always a chance whether it is one percent or 20 percent.
"I still enjoy training and I still enjoy the game, these are the things in my control. Whatever decision is made, I respect that," said the southpaw who remains a centrally-contracted cricketer and spends a lot of time at the National Cricket Academy.
If the India comeback doesn't happen, Dhawan has an IPL trophy to win for Punjab Kings. He also expressed his keenness to play in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy before the IPL.
"I have not spoken to any selector (about my future). I keep going to NCA. I enjoy my time there, the facilities are great. NCA has shaped my career and I am grateful for it.
"Also I have to prepare for the IPL. I will be playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali and, hopefully, the Vijay Hazare as well," he said referring to the two domestic tournaments.
Tough to maintain flow as one-format player
Dhawan was playing only ODIs before being sidelined from the team. He said that turning up at the highest level in a single format can negatively impact the game.
"You keep getting breaks and you have to come back. But if you think it is difficult, it will be difficult. I never thought like that. At the same time, when the other players are involved in multiple formats, the flow (in the game) is a bit more and that matters a lot. If they do well, then it strikes in your eyes as well (attracts attention)."
With more than 10,000 international runs in his kitty, Dhawan has a lot to be grateful for. It is highly unlikely that he will get to feature in his third straight ODI World Cup but he is prepared to embrace whatever comes his way.
"I am in a very happy state of mind. When you play the World Cup it is a great feeling. I am very blessed to have such an amazing career and contribute to the Indian team.
"At this stage, you go year by year. Physically I am very fit and I have an IPL to win for Punjab Kings. Hopefully, we can do that next year," said Dhawan, who has three World Cup hundreds to his name.
As he is not part of the Indian team anymore, Dhawan has a lot more time at his disposal. Besides working on his game and fitness, he spends a lot of time on his varied commercial ventures, which fall under the Da One Group umbrella.
"It is important to be productive. We live quite a high-paced life, especially when you are playing all formats like I used to at one point. Now I have enough time, so I keep myself involved with my business interests.
"I train well and don't sit at home and make sure it doesn't get into my head. Working on my fitness and my body gives me a lot of positivity."
I would go with Surya at number four
With question marks over the fitness of Shreyas Iyer, the number four position in the Indian ODI set-up is up for grabs ahead of the World Cup. Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson are the contenders while R Ashwin thinks rookie batter Tilak Varma can be a good choice at that position.
"I would go with Surya at four as he is an experienced player and has been playing international cricket for a while.
"Also, really looking forward to see how Shubman Gill does in the World Cup. Another batter to watch out for will be Rohit Sharma as he did exceptionally well in the last World Cup," he said referring to Rohit's five hundreds in the 2019 edition.
On India's chances in the World Cup, he added, "We have got a very good side which has the right blend of experience and youth. We will have the home advantage. We know the grounds and pitches and that is going to come in very handy.
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