Shikhar Dhawan was just six internationals old when he made his Test debut at the age of 28 and it was one of the most memorable starts that anybody could have asked for. Dhawan replaced Virender Sehwag for the Mohali Test of the Border-Gavaskar series in 2012-13 and made it count. He went on to register the highest-ever individual score by an Indian on Test debut and it happened on this day in 2013.
However, things could have been very different had Australia appealed for a ‘Mankading’ incident which occurred when the ball slipped out of Mitchell Starc’s hand and Dhawan, who was backing up at the non-striker’s end, was short of his ground when the ball hit the stumps. He could have been out without even facing a ball on Test debut.
There was nothing but a sarcastic appeal from the Australian skipper Michael Clarke asking for a replay.
India had already taken a 2-0 lead in the four-match series, thanks to an eight-wicket win in the first Test at Chennai followed by an innings and 135-run win in the second Test in Hyderabad. The Hyderabad Test will be remembered for the wrong reasons by Australia as they became the first team to lose a match by an innings after declaring their first innings. It was after this Test that coach Mickey Arthur suspended four players – Shane Watson, James Pattinson (Both played the second Test), Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja (both part of the touring party) for one Test for not submitting an ‘homework’ assigned to players asking them to write how they could turn things around.
India needed to win one out of the remaining two Tests to ensure that they got their hands on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, as they had lost it when they were crushed 4-0 in the previous edition Down Under.
Day One of the Mohali Test was delayed due to rain, which meant that the toss took place only on the second day. Sachin Tendulkar handed cap number 277 to Dhawan and the southpaw stole the show from there.
Australia won the toss and elected to bat. It was a must-win game for the Aussies and they needed a huge first innings score to stay in the hunt. They started off well, with David Warner and Ed Cowan putting on 139 for the first wicket – batting a session and a half in the process. But it was Ravindra Jadeja, who struck off consecutive deliveries, removing Warner for 71, followed by the Australian skipper Clarke for a first-ball duck.
The visitors kept losing wickets at regular intervals, but Steven Smith – one of four changes to the side stayed put at one end. He found unlikely support in No. 9 batsman Starc, who himself had come into the side in place of Pattinson. Australia were 251 for 7 when Starc came in to bat. He put on 97 with Smith and then added 51 with Nathan Lyon, but was dismissed one short of his maiden Test hundred as Australia were bowled out for 408.
This was Australia’s highest total of the series and would have backed themselves to get something out of this match at that stage.
It just took Dhawan four deliveries to get off the mark and from there on, he never looked back. His timing was good and his shots were exquisite, classy and graceful, which is the hallmark of a left-handed batsman. He had a couple of close calls though – edged a wide ball away from first slip and also survived an LBW appeal before bringing up his fifty at run-a-ball pace.
The boundaries kept flowing from his bat and at the same time, he did not hit many balls in the air and yet was operating at a strike-rate of over 100. His partner Murali Vijay played a perfect second fiddle. He did not feel the need to match Dhawan shot for shot.
Dhawan brought up his hundred off just 85 deliveries – the fastest on debut. Dhawan continued his dominance and the opening partnership was hurting Australia’s chances of staying alive in the series. Dhawan brought up his 150 off just 131 deliveries and looked to be in a hurry to reach his double hundred. However, early on Day Four, Dhawan walked back to the pavilion having scored 187 off 174 deliveries. He not only had the highest score for India on Test debut, but his strike-rate of 107.47 is the highest among players scoring a century on Test debut.
• Vijay too scored a century (153) as India were bowled out for 499
• India ended up winning the match by six wickets and with that, the series
• India completed a 4-0 whitewash – their first over Australia – after a comprehensive six-wicket win in Delhi