Home > Features >

Shikhar Dhawan’s champagne cricket creates surreal drama at Mohali

Shikhar Dhawan's champagne cricket creates surreal drama at Mohali

The drives flowed in gushing spirit, the feet danced down in nimble gaiety. The pace bowlers were dispatched with the timing of happy hour, and when spinners came on the footwork and flow of stokes mingled in an exotic cocktail © PTI

Shikhar Dhawan’s debut innings was nothing short of champagne cricket — heady, intoxicating, mindboggling. Arunabha Sengupta looks back at the strokeplay of the debutant that flowed in a deluge of delight.

Shikhar Dhawan’s career was uncorked with the resounding pop of a champagne bottle. And the effervescent strokes bubbled forth in sparkling jolts.

It was fresh, it was fun and it was fabulous.

The drives flowed in gushing spirit, the feet danced down in nimble gaiety. The pace bowlers were dispatched with the timing of happy hour, and when spinners came on the footwork and flow of stokes mingled in an exotic cocktail.

A couple of short balls were forced with reassuring pull shots, but it was when the ball was up there that the show turned heady, intoxicating. It was champagne cricket that flowed unabated between lunch and tea. And all that came with the slice of left-hander’s natural elegance firmly wedged in the corner.

From the moment Peter Siddle was punched past cover, there was no ebb in the flow of runs. The covers were crowded with more and more Australians added as a hastily constructed dam to thwart the deluge of drives, but runs were leaked not in a trickle but a cascade.

The 50 was reached in 50 balls, with as many as 12 boundaries. And oblivious to all tenets of Test cricket and dictums of debut, Dhawan accelerated further. Hardly can one choose between the brilliance of his scintillating strokes, but if one has to be picked it was the drive off Nathan Lyon – off a perfectly good delivery that deserved respect. Dhawan stepped out on his youthful toes, reached for it and threaded it through three men in the covers. It oozed class and confidence.

And then there was the moment when soaring spirit was stirred with a growing strain of inebriated madness. Dhawan, on 73, knelt down to Xavier Doherty and reverse-paddled him past the ’keeper. Test cricket was not meant to be played this way, certainly not by a debutant galloping towards his century.

However, the breeze of fresh air, that seemed to accompany the newcomer from the moment he stepped out, carried him through this extraordinary liberty and the ball rebounded off the advertising hoardings.
The first blemish occurred when he drove at a reversing Siddle delivery. It flew past the diving gully for a boundary as fortune steadfastly stood up for the brave, taking him to 98. And the bravado continued as he stepped out to the fast man off his next delivery, picking up a single to deep point.

Off the next ball, he dabbed and ran, finishing his frantic scamper with a full length dive. The throw came in from cover, but fortune now showered the bounty of bonus on this brave lad. The shy at the stumps went wide and resulted in five. The young man rose with a delighted smile under the curious moustache, a beaming dazzle worth travelling miles to see. The hundred had come off just 85 balls, with 21 fours and a five the fastest century on debut in terms of balls a complete hundred between lunch and tea. The run-rate remained steadfastly over five an over. It was scripted in the fumes of fantasy.

The post-tea session saw Dhawan continue on his magical journey. With the hundred already bottled and labelled as an unforgettable offering of fizz and sparkle, he added the third dimension to his strokes.The balls were now loftedin the air. Lyon was hoisted over cover for four and hit over his head for six. The bowler had beaten him in flight on the second occasion, but yet the ball ended beyond the sight screen. The Australian fielders were drenched in this shower of shimmering strokeplay.

And then came the delightful punch of three boundaries off Mitchell Starc in one over. Through the covers and backward point, two drives off the front foot and the thirddismissed off the back. It transcended expectations and belief.

When Lyon pitched up he was lofted. And when he dropped it short, the fine late cut was unfurled a portion of elegant unctuous added to the snazzy spritzig. The 150 came up from 131 balls, with 29 boundaries, one five and a six.

At the end of the day he stood at 185 from 168 deliveries, Two hundred and eighty three without loss is not a bad score at the end of the day, and does seem to be powered by the winds of change at the top of the order. At the other end, Murali Vijay was not exactly stonewalling, with ten boundaries and two sixes in his 83. But, Dhawan was faster by two times and a half.

All sorts of records stand in front of him, waiting to be washed away as he resumes his exhilarating flow on Sunday.

Towards the end of the day on Saturday, his frantic pace slowed down, if only slightly —but for the occasional six that his fancies demanded as effects of hangover of the earlier splurge.

The ebullience, though, rode on a sound head that plunged in the stopper as the day dwindled to an end, to keep the foam and froth intact for the morrow. And when it bursts forth again as he walks out to bat, it can soar to all sorts of heights.

Shikhar Dhawan magic at Mohali: Read all the stories here

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Geoff Marsh and other Father-Son trios to have played Test cricket

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Why did Mohammad Hafeez go for a shocking review?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Saeed Ajmal’s action to be assessed after two more weeks of remedial work under Saqlain Mushtaq

Nepal to host world’s first blind women’s cricket series

All India Public Sector Cricket Tournament to be held in Mumbai

Mitchell Johnson: We need to use new ball well tomorrow

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan proud at scoring record 25th Test ton

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Younis Khan: First Pakistani and 12th overall to score a century against all 9 Test nations

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test, Day 1 highlights: Younis Khan’s ton, Mitchell Johnson’s riveting spell

Younis Khan becomes first Pakistan batsman to score a ton against each of the Test-playing nations

Steve O’Keefe and other Test cricketers with apostrophes in their surnames

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

अभिनेत्री हुमा कुरैशी ओरिफ्लेम की ब्रांड एंबेसडर

Has Bigg Boss 8 made Karishma Tanna the most hated person?

Pranab Mukherjee returns home after visit to Norway, Finland

Revealed: First look of Amitabh Bachchan-Farhan Akhtar’s Do!

7 reasons why having sex during pregnancy is great for your health

Videocon Infinium Graphite with gesture control feature launched, priced at Rs 10,499

Rupee up 19 paise against dollar in early trade

Twitter introduces Audio Cards to listen to music directly from your timeline

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here