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Shikhar Dhawan – living in Melbourne, playing for India

Shikhar Dhawan, who created history by breaking the jinx against South Africa during the ICC World Cup 2015, is in a perfect form right now.

But will he be playing in Melbourne?

Dhawan could be well in the fray of making another Test comeback. As per The Mumbai Mirror, the left-handed batsman was spotted in the Indian team’s hotel and was also carrying his kitbag.

Although nothing has been announced officially, it can be assumed that he will be seen playing with the Indian side, especially after the poor show by the Indian openers in the ongoing Test series against Australia.

The current series is level at 1-1 with both teams winning a game each.

India won the first test in Adelaide by 31 runs but Australia made a strong comeback and defeated India in the second game winning the Test by 146 runs.

Dhawan, who lives in Melbourne with his family during off-season, has not been back to India after the T20I series and stayed on with his family in Melbourne.

The presence of Dhawan with the team, give signs that he might be given another chance and may be asked to open the innings if added to the squad, officially.

The third and the penultimate Test of the series kicks off on December 26 in Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

But Dhawan’s cricketing ability is not the only thing that makes him popular, it is his wife, Aesha Mukherjee, as well.

Shikhar Dhawan and Aesha Mukherjee have a unique love story – how the moustache boy met the Bengali beauty of Melbourne.

Dhawan’s wife Aesha Mukherjee is a kickboxer

Aesha is an Anglo-Indian with an Indian father and mother of English descent. She was born in London, but her family soon moved to Australia.

She is a trained kickboxer and a sports fanatic. Ayesha is fluent in Bengali and English and enjoys cooking Indian food. And, she was once married to an Australian businessman but got divorced. She has two daughters from her first marriage, Rhea, and Aliyah.

The couple had a son together in 2014 and named him Zoravar.

Recently writing as a contributor for playersvoice, Shikhar Dhawan delved into his family, wife, kids, Melbourne and Delhi.

“In Melbourne, you drive straight. In Delhi, we zigzag”.

“… I enjoy driving here now, although I prefer to stay in the suburbs and out of the city if I can help it.

“My family home has been in Melbourne for six or seven years now. I spend about 250 days a year on the road with the Indian team and my IPL and domestic cricket sides. It’s a crazy, very intense lifestyle.

“But whenever I have a gap in my schedule I will jump on a plane from India to Australia, come home and spend time with my family. Everything I do is for them”.

Talking about love and marriage, Dhawan wrote:

“Aesha and I didn’t believe in internet love. Neither of us were looking for that… But…

“Our chemistry was on from day one. We were laughing together and had many wonderful conversations. It was like a best friend thing. She told me about her daughters and her amateur boxing. I have sparred with her a few times. Her punches are strong, man! She’s the boss.

“It took three months for us to meet in person because I was busy playing cricket during that period. She flew over to India and met me at the IPL. I fell in love with her quite quickly and I knew I wanted to marry her”.

Dhawan wrote about his difficult decision to get married to Aesha:

“There were some difficult discussions, however. My parents were against the marriage in the beginning because she had been divorced and had two children. It is a cultural thing…

“It’s not easy to stand against your parents because you love them, but I knew what I had to do. I loved Aesha and they saw that. Eventually, they were happy for us.

“A year later we got married at a huge wedding in Delhi. It was a big family event with lots of music and colour and dancing. It went for three days. Indians love a big wedding!”

About making a life for himself and his family, Melbourne was the first choice for Dhawan:

Shikhar Dhawan and family

“We made the decision quite early on that we would settle in Melbourne. Aesha had made her home there and the girls were going to school.

“To move them to India would mean they were basically starting from zero, which would not have been very fair given how much I was travelling with cricket.

“The Indian community in Melbourne know I live here and sometimes we get people knocking at the door wanting to meet or get a photo”.

However, Dhawan writes that his family is averse when strangers appear at their in Narre Warren.

“In the Australian culture, people like their space. But for the most part people are respectful”.

Dhawan loves Melbourne, its outdoors lifestyle, privacy and carefree life:

“I can do many things here I couldn’t do back in Delhi.

“As cricketers in India, we live quite a closed life. We live in hotels for most of the year. We’ll stay in our rooms a lot of the time and eat in the hotel restaurants. We don’t go outside too much because there is no privacy.

“The Indian team likes coming to Australia because they have more freedom to move around. I enjoy that, too. It is more of a carefree life here.

“I had visited Australia previously and I had a good idea about the lifestyle, the culture and the food. It’s a good life.

“I love the outdoors lifestyle in Melbourne. We go to Dandenong mountains sometimes and feed the cockatoos. I enjoy dropping my son off and picking him up from school each day, or taking my daughters to watch a show like The Lion King when it’s on in the city”.

Talking about the difference in daily chores, Dhawan writes: “The housework situation here is quite different, though. In India, we have domestic help but here you do everything yourself. I quite enjoy that change of mentality.

“I will vacuum the floor and clean up the garden and do the shopping, whereas if I was in Delhi I wouldn’t even think about all that.

“It’s the same with my daughters. They clean their rooms and make their own beds …One of my daughters has just started part-time work as a dog-walker around our suburb. She knows now how hard it is to earn money. That is a good life lesson for her.

“My girls are into the local music scene here, but I prefer Punjabi music, my mother tongue.

“People also tell me I need to get a footy team. My mother-in-law loves the AFL. She supports Carlton. I am happy just to watch it on the TV”.

For Dhawan, from a cricketing perspective too, living in Melbourne is good:

“I found moving from Delhi to Melbourne quite a smooth process. The BCCI had no problem with it and neither did my teammates.

“The facilities are excellent, I have created a system and I report into the BCCI to update them on how I am going. I work with a few local Australian coaches and there are clubs and indoor net facilities I have access to. I also go to the local gym.

“Sometimes I have a hit at the MCG nets. It’s a beautiful ground, one of the best in the world.

“I was at the MCG one time and the people … were chanting ‘Narre Warren! Narre Warren! Narre Warren!’ It was pretty funny.

Celebrations are in full swing now in the Dhawan household:  Diwali & Christmas

Amateur boxer Aesha Dhawan with cricketer husband Shikhar Dhawan

I am home at the moment for six straight weeks. That is the longest time I have spent here consecutively since we first moved. I joked to my wife a few weeks ago, ‘I wonder if you are going to like having me around the house this much?’ Luckily, it has been beautiful.

“This year, we are going big for Christmas. We’ve already started decorating our home. The Christmas tree is there. The lights are in the backyard and the front of our home. I can see Santa Claus all over the place!

“We celebrated Diwali here a few weeks ago, too. We did Lakshmi Puja, which is like prayers. We played cards as a family. Now I’m going to enjoy Christmas. This family time means a lot to me. I cannot thank them enough.

Playing for India and living in Melbourne, Dhawan believes, is wonderful for his kids:

“Aesha understands my situation very well. It’s a very intense life but we make it work.

“Wherever possible, my family travels with me. I think it is wonderful for the kids. They live the Aussie life and the Indian life. They can live and communicate in both cultures.

“They won’t have to travel so far for my next assignment: the one-dayers against Australia. I’ll join the Indian team for that. It’s good for me that I’m training here in the local conditions. There will be no acclimatising.

“And then we’re off for another big year, which includes the World Cup in England.

But the ground that draws out the most emotion is still Feroz Shah Kotla:

“I grew up at Kotla. I’ve been playing there since I was a teenager.

“This year I’m going to play with the Delhi Capitals. It will feel like I’m coming home,” signs off Shikhar Dhawan.

Raj Kumar

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