Shikhar Dhawan is not in the equation for India’s T20 World Cup campaign in Australia this month, but the stand-in skipper for the ODI series against South Africa is hopeful a strong show with the bat will keep him in contention for next year’s global competition at home.

“I always see the positive side of an issue and feel this ODI series is the best opportunity for me to keep the momentum going for a place in the 2023 World Cup. I wish to remain fit and fine and keep batting well so that I can make it to the team,” Dhawan said on Wednesday. The first ODI will be played on Thursday.

“I don’t know how long I am going to play cricket, but right now my biggest goal is to play in the 2023 World Cup,” said Dhawan, who will turn 37 in December. “Every time I play, I am grateful to God and wish to stay fit. I have had a beautiful career, and I always try to pass my knowledge on to youngsters. Now there is new responsibility on my shoulders, but I am enjoying this opportunity and challenges ahead.”

Dhawan is the third highest run-getter among active India players, only behind Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. He has aggregated 6,647 runs in 158 ODIs with 17 centuries.

Dhawan said the ODI series against South Africa was an opportunity for younger players to showcase their talent for a regular spot. “As captain, I try to give them such an environment where they can be themselves and open up. I always try to keep a happy, light environment; side by side, I also share my experiences and even I learn a lot from them.”

On facing South Africa, Dhawan said: “Both the teams made plenty of runs in the T20 series. It depends on the pitch, dew and other factors.”

Proteas batter Janneman Malan was confident limited-overs skipper Temba Bavuma, under pressure to perform with the bat, will find his form before the T20 World Cup. Bavuma returned from injury to lead the Proteas in the T20 series, which they lost 1-2, but was dismissed for 0, 0 and 3.

Malan said the ODI series was the perfect opportunity for Bavuma to regain his touch.

“As an opener, I can relate to that, I had a couple of experiences where when you’re not in form or (don’t have) a lot of matches under your belt… it’s a quick-moving match… you have to find a way, and there’s a lot of pressure with the run rate.

“Sometimes it’s tricky to get going. In a one-day game, it’s easy to just bat whereas in T20 cricket, you have to get a move on, so it’s difficult.

“Every player has his role in how he approaches things,” he said. “Temba is in a bit of a patch, but it can quickly change and he can find form easily before the World Cup. We back all the players in our camp; he is a good leader and is valuable in our space. It’s just about showing him love and him performing at his best.”

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