New Delhi: Having scored consistently since the last ICC Cricket World Cup, Shikhar Dhawan believes that he has "become a better batsman" in the past eight months compared to what he was when he made his Test debut against Australia back in 2013.
"Obviously, there has been a transformation in my game over the past two years. But I would admit that I have become a far better batsman in the past seven to eight months starting from the World Cup where I ended as one of the tournament's highest scorer (fifth in the list with 412 runs)," Dhawan told PTI in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
"What I was looking for in my game was consistency and I believe in the past few months, I have been able to achieve that. I now have a better understanding of my game than what it was in 2013 in my first year in Test cricket.
"I am happy to have got back-to-back centuries and was really sad that I had to miss two Test matches due to fracture I sustained during Galle Test," the 29-year-old left-hander said expressing confidence that he will be back in action against Bangladesh A in the three-day game for India A.
"I am recuperating well although I haven't yet started my nets. Hopefully I will get fit by September 27th," Dhawan said.
For Dhawan, his failures in the Test series in England and Australia were big lesson for him as he worked hard on his game before the World Cup.
"I believe failure teaches you more than success does as it happened with me on tours of England and Australia. But then before the World Cup, I worked on my game. People can be critical about your game but no one knows better than the player as to what he needs. The turnaround started from the World Cup," said Dhawan, who has 1158 Test and 2665 ODI runs.
While many believe that more than technique it's about temperament at the top level, Dhawan would tell you that it's a strong grasp of basics that always comes handy.
"Technique is the main thing when it comes to success at the top level. The sound temperament comes into work only when you have a sound technique," said Dhawan.
On his own admission, he never batted with "more pain" than the one he played at the Galle which India lost to Sri Lanka despite his century in the first innings.
"I sustained the fracture while fielding on the first day itself. I took medicines and went into bat on the second day. It was swollen and very painful. It was so satisfying to play with pain. I was testing my pain barrier. There's this macho feeling of being able to beat the pain. In the second innings, I had to bat as the wicket was a tricky one," said Dhawan.
Dhawan however said that playing through pain at Galle was not trying to prove a point as he was panned by his critics for coming down the order during last year's Brisbane Test match.
"That was past and I don't well on the past. It had nothing to do with Galle match. At Galle, the team needed me and I tried my best to perform the role assigned to me," said the southpaw.
For Dhawan, the South Africa series will be a challenging one but he would like to believe that India are favourites to win the series.
"We have the team to beat South Africa. If we focus on processes, the results will automatically take care of themselves," Dhawan echoed what limited overs skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has said all these years.
Dhawan also did not endorse the popular view that this Indian batting line-up is not capable of playing quality spin bowling.
Asked if he is planning to do some homework in order to counter South African spinners Imran Tahir and Dane Piedt.
"I believe it's a wrong conclusion to draw that Indians can't play spin bowling. I can tell that I am practising the sweep shot which I love playing. Also I plan to practice batting with roughs being created on both sides of the wicket by bowlers' footmark. These helps in preparing for turning deliveries," said Dhawan.
He believes that competition between him, KL Rahul and Murali Vijay is a "healthy one".
"We have all scores runs in Sri Lanka. Pujara also played a brilliant innings. This is only going to augur well for Indian cricket. We feed off each other's success. I am very happy for both Rahul and Vijay and I believe that competition will keep me on toes," concluded Dhawan.