Dhawan 'Mankaded' before dream debut
'Accidental Mankad' of the day
Everyone who witnessed Shikhar Dhawan's Test debut will remember it for his exquisite strokeplay. It could have been memorable for all the wrong reasons. As Mitchell Starc ran in to bowl the first ball of the innings, Dhawan stood at the non-striker's end, ready to back up. But the ball slipped from Starc's hand as he neared the crease and hit the stumps with Dhawan out of his ground, already backing up. Under the ICC's playing conditions, because Starc had not yet completed his normal delivery swing, Dhawan would have been run out had Australia appealed. But there was no diamond duck on debut for Dhawan as Australia were not interested in appealing, although Michael Clarke jokingly signalled for a replay.
Despite all the excitement, it is highly debatable if Dhawan would have been given out even if Australia had appealed. The ball slipped out of Starc's hand, which means no attempt was made to mankad Dhawan. The wording of law 42.15 under the ICC playing conditions is open to interpretation, but some umpires are of the view that an attempt at mankading has to be intentional. We might never know how the umpires would have reacted had an appeal been made in this case.*
Lower-order shot of the day
Mitchell Starc played some excellent strokes on his way to 99 but the shot that signalled his intentions was his first boundary of the day. The ninth ball of the morning was a bouncer that Ishant Sharma hoped might get the lower-order batsman second-guessing himself. Instead, Starc simply stayed on the front foot and hooked the ball from in front of his face away to the midwicket boundary. It was the shot of a confident man.
Top-order shot of the day
How to choose? Dhawan hardly played a stroke that wasn't magnificent. There were backfoot square drives, crisp frontfoot drives, flicks through leg, sweeps - and his placement was impeccable. But for sheer unexpectedness on debut, Dhawan's reverse-paddle against Xavier Doherty takes the honour. Dhawan picked a fullish ball that was just outside off stump and reverse-swept it very fine past Brad Haddin. The ball ran away along the ground for four, and it was part of an over that cost Doherty 18 runs.
Predictable spell of the day
Steven Smith played his first Test as Australia's specialist spinner but has switched his focus firmly to his batting in the last couple of years, so much so that this Sheffield Shield season, he has sent down only 15 overs. When Australia had a net set up on the pitch for centre-wicket practice after the Hyderabad Test, Smith was handled with ease by the otherwise struggling Phillip Hughes. But as Dhawan and M Vijay kept piling up the runs against Australia's five main bowlers, it was inevitable that Smith would eventually be given a trundle. His three-over spell was littered with full tosses and rank long hops and he was lucky to escape with only 24 runs having come off his 18 balls.
* 6.48pm GMT, March 16: The copy has been updated after reviewing the laws of the game.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here