Mohali: Mar 16, 2013
Shikhar Dhawan announced his arrival on Test arena with a scintillating 85-ball century, the fastest ever hundred on debut, as India made a strong reply after bowling out Australia for 408 in the third match of the series at Mohali on Saturday..
The 27-year-old Dhawan smashed his way to an unbeaten 106 off a mere 90 balls as India went to tea at a commanding 156 for no loss, after Mitchell Starc dominated the third day's first session.
The Delhi batsman surpassed the record of earlier fastest hundred on debut which was in the name of West Indian Dwayne Smith who reached his century in 93 balls in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2004.
Dhwan hit 21 fours while spending 115 minutes in the middle, helping India score 153 runs in the 28 overs bowled in the second session of play.
Murali Vijay played his part in the first-wicket big century partnership, contributing an unbeaten 42 off 85 balls with the help of four fours and two sixes.
Interestingly, Dhawan raced into the 90s without hitting a single ball in the air. What makes his effort even more praiseworthy is that he maintained a strike-rate of over hundred almost all through his innings. It was a staggering 117.64 when Dhawan got to the three-figure mark.
Earlier, one run was all that separated Starc from becoming the first number nine Australian batsman to notch up a century, as the visitors posted a competitive total.
Ray Lindwall had scored exactly 100 against England at the MCG in 1947 while coming out at number nine.
Though he missed out on the hundred by a whisker, Starc, along with Steven Smith (92), frustrated the Indians for a while, helping Australia add 135 runs in the first session of play before Ravichandran Ashwin trapped last-man Xavier Doherty.
The Indians made three runs in the one over they played before lunch, with Vijay scoring all of them
But, after the lunch break, the show completely belonged to Dhawan who treated the Australian bowlers with disdain, playing some delightful shots, especially through the heavily populated off-side.
Such was his off-side play that it would have pleased even Sourav Ganguly and former England captain David Gower.
The Delhi batsman's timing was impeccable, and his shot-selection faultless.
The Australians, literally, had no answer to counter Dhawan's stroke-play. The way Dhawan dominated the Aussies, it never looked like he was playing in his maiden Test.
In terms of statistics, he hit 19 fours in the first 23 overs, the joint-highest along with West Indian Chris Gayle.
Dhawan reached his 50 off 50 balls, with the help of 12 fours in 72 minutes.
Earlier, Starc was caught behind on 99 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Ishant Sharma, which dashed his hopes of becoming the first Australian in 66 years to score a century while batting at number nine.
Another record tumbled on the day as Starc and Smith's 97-run association for the eighth wicket surpassed the previous best of 73 between Shane Watson and Brett Lee for this wicket at this ground. Starc was the more aggressive of the two.
Starc smashed 14 fours and faced 144 balls during his 146-minute stay at the crease. The 23-year-old left-hander from New South Wales was equal to the task whether it was about facing pacers or the spinners.
Making a sort of a lucky comeback to the Test squad after more than two years in wilderness, Smith made it count with a career-best score that included 10 boundaries and a six. He occupied the crease for 235 minutes and faced 185 balls.
A well-deserved century in sight, Smith became a victim of a viciously turning delivery from Pragyan Ojha and an equally good work by India skipper Dhoni, who stumped the batsman in a flash.
India heaved a sigh of relief, but Australia ensured they consolidate their position with another half-century partnership, for the ninth wicket between Starc and Nathan Lyon, with the former firmly in control of the proceedings.
During the course of their innings, both the batsmen had surpassed their previous best Test scores. While Smith's previous best effort — 77 — had come against Pakistan at Leeds, Starc's top-score prior to this match was 68 against South Africa in Perth last year.
Not just they added important runs, but did so at a fairly quick rate while keeping the Indian bowlers at bay.
Resuming at 273 for seven, both Smith and Starc were at ease while dealing with the ball, which was 104 overs old at the start of the day's play.
Starc made his intentions clear by pulling Ishant Sharma and then flicked Aswhin for another boundary.
After surviving a close lbw shout by Ishant, Smith got into the act driving him through the off-side for his first authoritative shot of the day. Starc, meanwhile, played Ishant straight over the bowler's head as the ball sped to the fence in one bounce.
The new ball was taken after 108 overs, but it was not the quicker bowlers, but a spinner who gave India the first breakthrough of the day.
Having replaced Aswhin from the pavilion end, Ojha got one to turn and bounce sharply, and Dhoni completed a smart stumping with Smith's back foot on the line.
For India, Ishnat and Ravindra Jadeja finished with three wickets each, while Ashwin and Ojha had two apiece.
Mohali: Mar 16, 2013