India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 3rd day March 16, 2013

'I didn't feel I rushed things' - Dhawan

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As he put together his whirlwind debut century, Shikhar Dhawan had it in the back of his head that he could have been run out without facing a ball.

As Mitchell Starc ran in to open the bowling in the Indian innings, the ball slipped out of his hand and fell onto the stumps at the non-striker's end. Dhawan, at that time, was a foot outside the crease.

It is debatable if he had been given out had Australia appealed. The umpires would have had to consider an important part of the manakading playing condition, which says, "The bowler is permitted, before releasing the ball and provided he has not completed his usual delivery swing, to attempt to run out the non-striker." Since the ball had slipped out of his hand unintentionally, they could have concluded "an attempt had not been made".*

However, Dhawan thought he was gone. He found himself laughing, while the Australia captain Michael Clark made signs to the umpires to go up to the TV umpire in jest, and the incident passed without rancour.

Dhawan, who was batting on 185 at stumps on day three, said after play: "It was lunch after that over. I was laughing in the dressing room, that history could have been created, that without facing a ball I would have been out and back in the dressing room."

He returned after the break and, in the matter of a single session, rewrote history. He produced one of the most breathtaking of debut centuries in recent times: it was the fastest ever by a Test debutant (85 balls) and the highest score on debut for India, surpassing Gundappa Viswanath's 137 in Kanpur against Australia in 1969.

He was given his Test cap by Sachin Tendulkar before the match and Dhawan said Tendulkar's words to him had been simple: "He told me that we all have known you as a gutsy player, and you've been performing well on the domestic circuit. We'd like to see your gutsy nature and shots over here."

And so he did. Dhawan's strike rate so far in this Test innings has been just over 110, the numbers closer to 50-overs and T20 cricket. But Dhawan said he was in no hurry to score at a particular rate, nor did it form part of any larger team strategy. "I wasn't really playing in a hurry. The fours were coming on their own after the ball hit the bat. But I guess I was in 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. There was no strategy, I was hitting the ball well, I was middling the ball very nicely and the runs came on their own. My only focus was that I'd play the ball on merit."

He admitted to being nervous, remembering his ODI debut against Australia on October 20, 2010, where he was bowled by Clink McKay off the second ball he faced. "This time I was nervous, that it was again Australia on my Test debut, because I'd scored zero then. But everything went well and I was really happy that I grabbed this opportunity and scored a century... It was a very satisfying feeling."

After his disastrous ODI debut, captain MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina had offered Dhawan solace, which had stayed in his mind. "They told me that the players who've got out on zero for India on debut, they went really big."Dhawan last played for India in June 2011, and was dropped after five ODI appearances. "I worked really hard and changed myself, and became a more mature player. I was waiting for a chance. I did very well on the domestic circuit, and was waiting for a chance to play in international cricket. I guess then that went my way."

Apart from Test and ODI debuts against the Australians, Dhawan's other Australian connection is personal. His wife, Aesha Mukherjee, a British-Asian, currently lives in Melbourne with her two daughters. After returning to the dressing room, Dhawan said: "I called my wife first. I knew she'd been praying for me, so it was an emotional moment for my wife. It's a great moment for me and my family."

Dhawan's nickname amongst his peers is Jaat-jee, which comes from his Jaat heritage. The Jaats come from a largely rural community in North India, concentrated in Haryana and portions of western Uttar Pradesh, surrounding Delhi. Dhawan's distinctive and carefully maintained moustache owes some allegiance to that heritage. As he walked off the field at tea and then at stumps, he twirled his moustache upwards, in a somewhat old-fashioned but instantly-recognisable gesture of bragging-rights ownership. On Saturday, he couldn¹t be denied.

*07.20pm GMT, March 16: The article has been updated after reviewing the laws of the game.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sachin_vvsfan on March 18, 2013, 8:53 GMT

    @Arrow011 you are kidding right?

  • dummy4fb on March 18, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    welcome to the new sehwag...a little more cultured perhaps

  • Allanwilliams23 on March 17, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    Fantastic for India Great Batting & good consetration Keep it up, we have a great opening pair lets give them a good chance to prove them self pls dont drop them for the old horses they have had they time & were great in there time focus on the new talent we have a give them proper training to focus on there batting pls dont put pressure let them pay there game all the best young lads give it your best, lets prepare them for the Bouncey Fast Pitches in South Africa & let Stain feel the Pain

  • darsh127 on March 17, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    @blitzNM, i am a great fan of dhoni and yes he did withdraw that appeal, but that was only due to pressure... the crowd was booing and the captain and coach had come to ask him to take back the appeal.

  • Clyde on March 17, 2013, 3:22 GMT

    I have seen two articles about this incident and neither has said whether the bails came off. Often they don't, when the ball 'falls on to' the wicket. Both articles left something to be desired, to put it mildly, from a journalistic perspective. Both articles were on the Cricinfo site.

  • drpramit on March 17, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    Thats a superb inning, a flawless, full of cricketing shots from the book. There are many players in India who were never given a chance to play in the Indian team. Why we are so much obsessed with the old players. It took us more than a year to drop Gambhir & Sehwag. Same is the case with Tendulkar, its time for him to realise that cricket wont stop after his retirement.

  • vamsiheroes on March 17, 2013, 2:39 GMT

    yorkshire-86 is right. Mankading is not cheating. The rule has been introduced to prevent backing up. If mankading is wrong, stump out rule must be discarded as well.

  • mightyconqueror on March 17, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    Nice positive batting by India on day 4 and they will stand a chance to win this match. Dhawan should get a double century.

  • Arrow011 on March 17, 2013, 1:59 GMT

    It is time Virender Sehwag is brought back in the team & replace Vijay as test opener. I bet Viru would outscore Dhawan in every innings, Viru is audacious & Shikar is all of grace. I wish Dhawan plays the same way he has been played in this test.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on March 17, 2013, 1:11 GMT

    Thanks for clarifying Ugra. I too thought that you can't Mankad if you are in your delivery stride. Yes, since it wasn't an attempt to run him out, the appeal wouldn't have been upheld.

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