Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Rohit Sharma scored 177 from 301 balls, which included 23 fours and one six © IANS

Rohit Sharma became the 14th Indian to score a hundred on Test debut. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at all the Indian batsmen who started their career with a hundred in their first Test.

Rohit Sharma lit up Sachin Tendulkar’s 199th Test with a hundred on debut. In the process he became the 14th Indian to achieve the feat. The 13 men before him ended up with mixed results in their career. Let us have a look:

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Lala Amarnath © Getty Images

1. Lala Amarnath, 118 against England at Bombay, 1933-34

Not only was the Bombay Test the first to be played on Indian soil, but it also created history by being the first Test hosting Test cricket on a Sunday. It was on this Sunday — the third of the Test — that Nanik ‘Lala’ Amarnath Bharadwaj created history.

After CK Nayudu decided to bat, India were bowled out by ‘Stan’ Nichols, Hedley Verity, and James Langridge for 219; all three bowlers claimed three wickets apiece. Lala Amarnath on debut top-scored with 38 in the first innings. Thanks to an impressive 136 from another debutant, Bryan Valentine, England scored exactly double of India’s aggregate while Mohammad Nissar picked up five wickets.

When ‘Nobby’ Clark reduced India to 21 for two the rest of the Test seemed to be a mere formality. It was then that Nayudu joined Amarnath; both of them were renowned for their aggressive batting, and it was expected that they would put their heads down. As things turned out, both batsmen decided to put their heads down and grind the English attack.

Nayudu kept continuing in this fashion, but Amarnath opened up after a while, reaching his fifty. Then, just before stumps on Day Three, Amarnath reached his hundred, sending even the composed Nayudu to forget all composure and rush to congratulate the youngster. Douglas Jardine, who had earned a reputation of being ruthless in the Bodyline series a season back, stopped wicket-keeper Harry Elliott from taking advantage and running Nayudu out.

As Amarnath returned to the pavilion women tore off their jewellery and showered them on him. On Day Four, however, India collapsed from 207 for two to 258; Amarnath scored 118. England won easily by nine wickets.

Trivia: Amarnath’s hundred was also the first hundred for India, debutant or otherwise.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Deepak Shodhan.

2. Deepak Shodhan, 110 against Pakistan at Eden Gardens, 1952-53

It took close to decades for another Indian to score a hundred on debut. It was perhaps a coincidence that Amarnath himself was India’s captain on this occasion. He won the toss, put India in, and Dattu Phadkar and Gulabrai Ramchand bowled Pakistan out for 257.

Roshan Harshadlal ‘Deepak’ Shodhan, a specialist batsman (and the only left-hander among the specialists), was held back for some inexplicable reason till India had lost six wickets for 179. On arrival Shodhan and Phadkar took the attack to the Pakistan camp, adding 86 for the seventh wicket.

Shodhan later accused Ramchand and Probir Sen, who had came after him, of playing reckless strokes and getting out, though Ghulam Ahmed, the No 11, hung around: “Two players, who came in after me, gave away their wickets so that I wouldn’t score a century. I told my partners to give me a stand. ‘Don’t worry,’ they said and started hitting out. But Ghulam Ahmed was a real gentleman. I knew he would never throw away his wicket.” He later cited ‘politics’ as the reason.

Shodhan eventually reached his hundred with two consecutive boundaries and was last out for 110. India folded for 397 and the match petered out to a draw thanks to an excellent rearguard action from Waqar Hasan.

Trivia: Shodhan also became the first left-handed batsman to score a hundred for India. He later finished his career with an average of 60.33 — the highest ever by an Indian with a completed career.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Kripal Singh.

3. Kripal Singh, 100 not out against New Zealand at Hyderabad, 1955-56

After Ghulam had decided to bat first India were in unexpected trouble, losing both openers with only 48 on board. Then Polly Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar settled down, adding 238 for the third wicket before the latter fell for 118. Umrigar piled on the runs and added 171 more with the debutant — Amritsar Govindsingh Kripal Singh.

After Umrigar fell for 223 (then a new Indian record) Kripal accelerated and eventually reached a round 100 with a straight drive off Tony MacGibbon. Ghulam declared the innings closed immediately at 498 for four (another new Indian record). Subhash Gupte’s seven-wicket haul ensured New Zealand had to follow-on, but Bert Sutcliffe saved the Test with a breezy 137 not out.

Trivia: Ram Singh, Kripal’s father, was the second person to reach the 1,000 run-100 wicket double in Ranji Trophy, but missed out on the 1936 tour of England since he was not one of Vizzy’s favourites. He had never played a Test. When Kripal reached his hundred Vizzy, then President of BCCI, had the cheek of wishing Kripal that Ram Singh “must be proud of having trained you as his colt.”

4. Abbas Ali Baig, 112 against England at Old Trafford, 1959

India were already down 0-3 in the series and received a further setback when Vijay Manjrekar was injured just before the fourth Test. Abbas Ali Baig was drafted in straight out of Oxford University to make his Test debut. Geoff Pullar and Mike Smith took England to 490 before the Indians were bowled out for a paltry 208 with Baig scoring 26. Colin Cowdrey decided to bat again and set India an impossible 548 to win (or bat out two days).

Pankaj Roy fell early; Baig, batting at three, soon took charge and Nari Contractor was reduced to a spectator. He batted with panache, and his dazzling strokeplay lit up a gloomy Old Trafford. Contractor and Datta Gaekwad fell in quick succession to ‘Dusty’ Rhodes.

The Derbyshire fast bowler then hit Baig on the temple and the youngster had to retire hurt for 85. He resumed on Day Five when India were 243 for five; Cowdrey brought on Rhodes immediately, but Baig did not flinch, and hooked and pulled ferociously to reach a hundred on debut.

With Bapu Nadkarni for company Baig brought up India’s 300 for the loss of five wickets; a victory seemed probable when Baig drove to Ted Dexter at long-on; Dexter’s throw came to Roy Swetman, who broke the stumps to find Baig short of his crease. Baig had scored 112. From 321 for five India were bowled out for 376.

Trivia: Baig became the first Indian to score an overseas hundred on debut. He also became the youngest Indian to score a hundred at 20 years and 126 days.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Hanumant Singh.

5. Hanumant Singh, 105 against England at Delhi, 1963-64

Hanumant Singh made his debut in the fourth Test of a series where ‘Tiger’ Pataudi won all five tosses and all five Tests were drawn. ML Jaisimha and Budhi Kunderan added 81 for the first wicket, and Hanumant eventually emerged with the score on 116 for three.

He batted brilliantly, outscoring Dilip Sardesai in an 85-run partnership; he then found an accomplice in Chandu Borde, and ended the day on 79 with India on 247 for four. He lost Borde the next morning but reached his hundred; he was eventually caught-and-bowled by John Mortimore for 105.

India scored 344, but Cowdrey’s 151 gave England a 117-run lead. India batted again and finished the Test with 463 for four. Pataudi scored 203 not out while Hanumant fell for 23.

Trivia: Hanumant’s great-uncle KS Ranjitsinhji and uncle KS Duleepsinhji were the first two batsmen of Indian origin to score Test hundreds on debut. They had, however, scored them for England.

6. Gundappa Viswanath, 137 against Australia at Kanpur, 1969-70

India selected a youngster called Gundappa Rangnath Viswanath for the second Test after India lost at Bombay. Though Viswanath fell to Alan Connolly for a duck India reached 320. Australia responded with 348, and Viswanath came out again with the score on 94 for two.

He got off to an excellent start, and it was evident that a special talent had arrived in international cricket. India were soon reduced to 147 for six, but Viswanath, aided by Eknath Solkar, managed to save the Test. In the process he reached his hundred and eventually fell for 137, then the highest score by a Indian debutant.

Trivia: Viswanath became the first batsman in the world to score a hundred and a duck on Test debut. He also scored 113 against England at Bombay in 1972-73 and became the first Indian batsman to have scored a hundred on Test debut who went on to score another hundred.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Surinder Amarnath.

7. Surinder Amarnath, 124 against New Zealand at Eden Park, 1975-76

Though he was almost two years elder Surinder Amarnath Bharadwaj made his Test debut more than six years after his younger brother Mohinder. In a Test where Sunil Gavaskar led India for the first time (as a standby for Bishan Bedi), New Zealand were bowled out for 266 by Bhagwat Chandrasekhar.

Surinder came out to bat after Dilip Vengsarkar, also on debut, fell early; he batted brilliantly, scoring 124 in a partnership of 204 with Gavaskar. He hit 16 fours and a six. Gavaskar also scored a hundred, and India eventually managed to secure a 148-run lead.

EAS Prasanna then picked up eight for 76 (still the best figures for an Indian overseas) to bowl out New Zealand for 215; Surinder scored only nine in the second innings but India won easily by eight wickets.

Trivia: Lala and Surinder Amarnath remain the only father-son pair to have scored hundreds on their respective Test debuts. Surinder also became the first Indian whose debut hundred had resulted in a victory.

8. Mohammad Azharuddin, 110 against England at Eden Gardens, 1984-85

The teams were levelled 1-1 when they reached Calcutta for the third Test. Gavaskar decided to bat first but both openers were back in the pavilion with only 35 on the board. Vengsarkar and Mohinder then steadied the ship before both fell in quick succession, leaving India at 127 for four.

India’s slow batting and only twenty minutes of cricket due to rain and smog on Day Two had virtually killed the game. To add to it Gavaskar did not declare before lunch on Day Four (possibly he did not have Kapil Dev in the ranks to force a victory), resulting in the crowd to boo him off the field (he decided never to play another Test on the ground).

Meanwhile, Azharuddin, a replacement for the injured Sandeep Patil, added 214 for the fifth wicket with Ravi Shastri at less than two runs an over. He eventually fell for a 322-minute 110 at the end of Day Three. India finally declared at 437 for seven; England were bowled out for 276, and though India could come out to bat only towards the end of the match it was sufficient to ensure that Shastri batted on all five days.

Trivia: Azharuddin scored 105 and 122 respectively in his next two Tests at Madras and Kanpur. He still remains the only batsman to have scored a hundred in each of his first three Tests.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Pravin Amre.

9. Pravin Amre, 103 against South Africa at Kingsmead, 1992-93

India’s first Test against South Africa started on a dramatic note with Jimmy Cook scoring a golden duck in the first ball of the Test. Kepler Wessels became the first player to score hundreds for two countries and took the hosts to 254 before unleashing the foursome of Allan Donald, Brett Schultz, Brian McMillan, and Meyrick Pringle on the tourists on a green pitch.

Pravin Kalyan Amre walked out to bat at 38 for four (including Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket, who became the first batsman to be given out by a third umpire in a Test); Amre led a recovery of sorts with Azharuddin (now the captain, just  like Lala Amarnath was during Shodhan’s hundred). They added 78 but India finished the day on a dismal 128 for six.

With Manoj Prabhakar also falling early Amre carved out what has been considered by many as the greatest hundred by an Indian on Test debut. He found company in Kiran More, and the two grinded on in an exemplary display of obdurate batting, tiring the four-pronged fast bowling attack (along with Omar Henry, the first coloured man to play for South Africa).

Amre opened up after that and eventually reached his hundred, which triggered a pitch invasion by the locals. He holed out to Jonty Rhodes off McMillan for a 299-ball 103 with 11 fours. India managed a 23-run lead but the Test petered out to a draw.

Trivia: Amre remains the only Indian to score a hundred on debut against a country playing their first Test. He is also the only Indian to have scored a fifty on his ODI debut and a hundred on his Test debut — both against South Africa.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Sourav Ganguly © Getty Images

10. Sourav Ganguly, 131 against England at Lord’s, 1996

After a defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston, India decided to drop Sanjay Manjrekar and play an extra batsman; they went in with two debutants in the form of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid at Lord’s. After Azharuddin put England in after the horror at the same ground six years back England were reduced to 107 for five by the Indian seamers.

Venkatesh Prasad eventually finished with five wickets as England scored 344, with Jack Russell scoring a hundred. Ganguly picked up the wickets of Nasser Hussain and Graeme Hick for the cost of 49 runs. India were 25 for one when he came out to bat.

Ganguly seemed at ease from the very beginning, batting with a silken elegance, especially on the off-side. He magically managed to pierce the off-side field on a consistent basis. He reached his hundred (the only Indian to do so at Lord’s) and was eventually bowled by Alan Mullally for a 301-ball 131. He had hit 20 boundaries.

After Ganguly’s departure Dravid carried on, and was unfortunate to miss out on a debut hundred by five runs; had he reached the three-figure mark it would have been the first occasion of two batsmen from the same side scoring hundreds on debut. The feat was subsequently achieved by Ali Naqvi and Azhar Mahmood.

The Test petered out to a draw as England finished with 278 for nine. Ganguly picked up Russell and conceded five runs, finishing the match with three for 54. The Test, however, is usually remembered as Dickie Bird’s last.

Trivia: Ganguly remains the only Indian to have scored a hundred and have taken wickets on Test debut.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Virender Sehwag © Getty Images

11. Virender Sehwag, 105 against South Africa at Bloemfontein, 2001-02

Shaun Pollock put India in and his fast bowlers immediately reduced the tourists to 68 for four (which included an outrageous 32 from VVS Laxman). Sehwag walked out to join Tendulkar, and the two put up an exemplary display of batting; Tendulkar countered the bouncers with the uppercut — a stroke that Sehwag also played later in the innings.

After Tendulkar fell for 155 following a 220-run partnership in 284 balls Sehwag took over, reaching his hundred in 157 balls with a boundary off Lance Klusener. He was eventually bowled by Pollock for a 173-ball 105 that included 19 fours. After Sehwag’s dismissal India were bowled out for 379 after being 351 for five.

Herschelle Gibbs and Klusener then scored hundred and secured a 184-run lead for the hosts despite Javagal Srinath’s five-wicket haul. Pollock bowled out India for 237 (Sehwag scored a 36-ball 31 with six boundaries) and South Africa won by nine wickets.

Trivia: Sehwag became the first Indian to have scored a Test hundred after he had scored an ODI hundred.

12. Suresh Raina, 120 against Sri Lanka at Colombo (SSC), 2010

After Sri Lanka had taken a 1-0 lead in the first Test at Galle (it was also Muttiah Muralitharan’s final Test) they virtually batted India out of the second Test when they declared at 642 for four. Kumar Sangakkara had scored 219 and Mahela Jayawardene 174 after Tharanga Paranavitana had scored a round 100.

Sehwag and Murali Vijay added 165 for the first wicket but India were quickly reduced to 173 for three. When Suresh Kumar Raina came out to bat at 241 for four a follow-on and a series defeat still loomed on the horizon.

In less than five hours Raina added 256 with Tendulkar in 419 balls. Both batsmen played aggressively, and as many as four Sri Lankan bowlers conceded over 100 runs. Raina’s fifty had come off 95 balls, but thereafter he opened up, hitting two sixes off debutant Suraj Randiv over long-on and deep mid-wicket.

The hundred took 192 balls and was brought up with an off-driven four off Dhammika Prasad. He was eventually caught by Sangakkara at mid-wicket off Ajantha Mendis. He had scored a 228-ball 120 with 12 fours and two sixes. With Tendulkar also scoring 203 India took a lead and were finally bowled out for 707 before Sri Lanka batted on till close.

Trivia: With this hundred, Raina became the first Indian to score hundreds in all three international formats of the sport. He still remains the only Indian to have achieved the feat.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Shikhar Dhawan © Getty Images

13. Shikhar Dhawan, 187 against Australia at Mohali, 2012-13

India were up 2-0 in the series and had headed for Mohali aiming for a whitewash. After the first day was washed out Australia got off to a 139-run opening stand followed by nineties from the unlikely pair of Steven Smith and Mitchell Starc. They finished on 408 just before lunch on Day Three. It had seemed that they could not lose the Test from there.

What followed was carnage. If Amre’s innings was the best debut hundred by an Indian, this was the most outrageous. Australia fell apart before they knew what had hit them. Dhawan simply kept on smashing the Australian bowlers to all corners of the ground.

His fifty came up in 50 balls and had included 12 fours; the 85-ball hundred had 21 fours; and the 150 eventually came up off 131, and had included 29 fours and a six. He reached 185 by stumps, taking a clear lead of 102 over his partner Vijay, and India, finishing the day with 283 without loss, had already made a dash for it.

Dhawan was caught by Ed Cowan at silly-point off Nathan Lyon next morning for a 174-ball 187 with 33 fours and two sixes. Vijay went on to score 153 as well, and after India were bowled out for 499 Australia left them with a target of only 133. India won by six wickets.

Trivia: Dhawan’s score of 187 is the highest by an Indian on debut. It is also the highest match total (the previous one being Lala Amarnath’s 156). His strike rate of 107.47 is the highest in all debut hundreds.

Rohit Sharma and the exclusive club of India's centurions on Test debut

Rohit Sharma © Getty Images

14. Rohit Sharma, 177 against West Indies at Eden Gardens, 2013-14

Day One began well for the tourists after Darren Sammy had decided to bat. However, a fiery spell of fast reverse-swing from Mohammad Shami triggered a collapse, and the tourists were bowled out for 234 after being 138 for two. India finished Day One on 37 without loss.

Shane Shillingford’s canny off-breaks reduced India to 83 for five by lunch on Day Two. It was impossible to believe that India would turn the tables in such a short period of time and win by an innings the next afternoon; however, after MS Dhoni set up the momentum, Rohit Gurunath Sharma settled down with Ravichandran Ashwin for company.

He started cautiously but slowly opened up, reaching his fifty in 95 balls with seven boundaries. The next fifty took him 97 more balls. He finished the day with 127 and just when it seemed he would break Dhawan’s record he shouldered arms to a straight delivery and was given leg-before off Veerasammy Permaul. His 177 had taken 301 balls and had included 23 fours and a six.

With Ashwin also scoring 124, India managed a 219-run lead. Shami came back with another furious spell and picked up five for 47 to demolish West Indies for 168 to finish the Test in the third afternoon.

Trivia: Rohit scoring a hundred and Shami taking a five-for — both on debut — form the only such example for India. Rohit is also the first player to have made his Test debut after playing over a 100 ODIs.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)