Mohali: A destructive century from Shikhar Dhawan on his Test debut, with Murali Vijay offering unfailing support at the other end, helped India reach 283 for no loss on the third day of the third Test against Australia on Saturday (March 16). By the end of the day, India, scoring well over five runs an over, had cut well into Australia’s first-innings total of 408 and trailed by 125. Dhawan put up an unbeaten 185, while Vijay, the quieter of the two, amassed 83 much to the delight of the weekend crowd at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. (Also read: Quick-fire Dhawan facts)
Thirty-three fours and two massive sixes helped Dhawan race to the fastest century on debut Test cricket had ever seen.
On a lighter note, Australian players will probably be ruing they did not appeal for his wicket when they had the chance. Running in to bowl the first ball of the innings, the last over before lunch, Mitchell Starc lost his grip on the ball which went on to clip the bails with Dhawan stranded outside the crease. Although technically out, Michael Clarke, the Australia captain, chose to see the lighter side of the incident.
Dhawan put in an imperious display, using his feet well and showcasing his array of strokes. Turning out after lunch, he was wasted no time, sending Peter Siddle through the covers twice in the third over. Shortly thereafter, he pulled Starc to the rope and soon all of Clarke’s bowling options had gone for runs. Most of Dhawan’s runs came through the offside, and there were some exquisite shots hit through the covers. He raced to his maiden half-century in just 50 balls, with a drive through mid-on. In the same over, Vijay, who played a measured innings in contrast to his usual flamboyant self and, thereby, suitably supporting Dhawan, served reminders of his existence, twice lifting Nathan Lyon over long-on for the maximum.
After completing his 50, Dhawan looked even more confident. Out came the reverse-sweep, and Xavier Doherty going for as many as 18 in the costliest of his covers. Dhawan soon entered the 90s, and it was only then that his scoring rate dipped slightly. He did enjoy a bit of luck when his slap at a wide-ish delivery from Siddle fell just short of gully, much to Siddle’s frustration. However, he eventually brought up his maiden ton, off just 85 balls, with a hurried single leading to scenes of explosive jubilation.
Earlier in the day, Mitchell Starc fell one short of what would have been his maiden Test century, while Steve Smith missed his by eight runs, as Australia’s tail resisted India to put up 408 in the first innings. The two added 135 runs to Australia’s overnight total of 273, as the tail frustrated India for almost the whole of the morning session.