Mohali: Shikhar Dhawan has described his record Test debut innings as a dream come true after smashing an unbeaten 185 as India raced to 283 for no loss in their first innings in the third Test against Australia at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) here on Saturday.
Dhawan, who replaced his statemate Virender Sehwag in the side, scored the fastest century by a Test match debutant, reaching three figures in just 85 balls as the tourists toiled. He hit 33 fours and two sixes in his 168-ball knock and is now just 15 short of becoming the first Indian to score a double century on debut.
Alongside him, Murali Vijay was quietly progressing towards his second consecutive Test hundred and was not out on 83 overnight. The 283-run unbeaten first-wicket stand between Dhawan and Vijay was the highest by an Indian pair against Australia.
Earlier, Australia were bowled out for 408 shortly before lunch after Mitchell Starc top-scored with 99 and Steve Smith struck 92.
After the day’s play, Dhawan said: “It feels very good. It was a dream for me to score so well on my debut. I’ve been working hard since I was dropped after I played my last one-day international for India. I worked really hard and changed myself and became a more mature player.
“I was waiting for a chance. I did very well in the domestic circuit and was waiting for a chance to play in international cricket. I guess that went my way.
“I wasn’t really playing in a hurry. The fours were going on their own after the ball hit the bat. But I guess I was in a good flow today. I felt my shot selection was good and I played according to how I’d assessed the wicket. I didn’t feel that I rushed things.
“I still remember when I debuted for India in ODIs and got out on zero against Australia. And then [Mahendra Singh] Dhoni and [Suresh] Raina told me that the players who’ve got out on zero for India on debut, they went really big. This time I was nervous that it was again Australia on my Test debut, because I’d scored zero then. So I was a bit nervous. But everything went well and I was really happy that I grabbed this opportunity and scored a century.”
Dhawan made the most of the generosity shown by the Australian team since he was technically run out even before the first ball was bowled. As Starc ran down for the opening delivery, the ball slipped from his grip and the hit the stumps and Dhawan was short of the crease. The Australians, however, preferred to have a laugh instead of appealing.
Dhawan was severe on Moises Henriques, Lyon and left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who leaked 18 runs in the 23rd over. Dhawan completed his century in just 85 balls with an almost suicidal single and got a standing ovation from the crowd.
Earlier, resuming at 273 for seven, the morning session was perhaps the best for Australia as they scored 135 runs for the last three wickets.
Overnight batsmen Smith and Starc added 97 runs for the eighth wicket and also achieved their best scores in Test cricket.