India assumed control of the third Test versus Australia on day three, as debutant Shikhar Dhawan ground the visitors to dust with a scintillating maiden hundred. After disposing of the remaining batsmen early in the morning, Dhawan and his opening partner Murali Vijay batted out the remaining two sessions to make a mockery of the Australian bowling at the PCA Stadium in Mohali.
India had to face an over before lunch but the Indian openers having negotiated it easily, came out all guns blazing and obliterated the bowling in the next two sessions. It resulted in a plethora of records tumbling, almost all of them down to Dhawan alone.
He raced to his maiden Test hundred off just 85 balls, and broke the record for quickest hundred on debut by West Indian Dwayne Smith, who had used 93 balls for his ton against South Africa in 2004. Then he went pass Gundappa Vishwanath’s score of 137, the previous best for an Indian batsman on his debut, also scored against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 1969-70.
The assault on the bowling was so intense that in the first hour after tea, runs were coming in at seven per over, while the innings rate at the end of play stood at a quick 4.87. Dhawan smashed 33 fours and two sixes during his innings. At stumps, India’s score stood at 283 for none in just 58 overs. They now trail by only 125 runs and this fast clip of scoring has given them a chance to win the Test in four days, after day one was washed out.
Meanwhile this was also the highest first wicket partnership for India against Australia, as well as the highest at this ground. At the end of third day, Dhawan was unbeaten on 185, off 168 balls, with 33 fours and two sixes. Vijay was unbeaten on 83, off 181 balls, with ten fours and two sixes.
Earlier in the day, Australia began on their overnight score of 273 for seven. Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc continued their fine partnership, and put on a record stand of 97 runs, thwarting the Indian bowling for a long time in the first session. Smith fell for 92, eight short of his maiden hundred, as MS Dhoni made a lightening quick stumping off Pragyan Ojha (2-98). He faced 185 balls and hit ten fours and one six.
Starc then took on the senior role and with Nathan Lyon (9 not out) put on 51 runs for the ninth wicket. It brought him close to his maiden hundred, but there was no joy in the visitor’s kitty, as he edged one to Dhoni off Ishant Sharma (3-72), out for a heart-breaking 99 runs. R Ashwin (2-97) then trapped Xavier Doherty (5) LBW to bring the Australian innings to a close. Ravindra Jadeja finished with three for 77.
Select quotes from the day:
Mitchell Starc: "Quite disappointed to not get my hundred, but am more pleased with the 99 runs I did get. All I wanted to do was bat as long as possible and stick around for Steve Smith to get his hundred. But neither of us got it. I wasn’t really nervous, but I was thinking about putting bat to ball as much as possible. It led to my dismissal in the end. Shikhar Dhawan played very well, and his strike rate can tell you that. We did not put him under a lot of pressure and bowled a few loose balls, but even attacking his off-stump didn’t help. But we are not out of this game yet, we have to come back hard at India tomorrow and try taking early wickets."
Shikhar Dhawan: "It is a dream come true for me, in every way. I want to thank God and also my wife and two daughters who are always praying for me. I spoke with my wife after returning to the dressing room and it was an emotional moment for us. I was nervous in the nineties but it wasn’t really apparent. Run scoring seemed easy but I was being watchful. The fours kept coming. I am just so honoured to receive my Test cap from Sachin Tendulkar. It was a dream to play for India with him in the same team and it came true today."
© Cricket World 2013
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