, the captain of the 2022 World Cup-winning India Under-19 team, has hit a century on first-class debut
, against the powerful Tamil Nadu at Guwahati's Barsapara Cricket Stadium, on the first day of the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy.
Opening the batting after TN captain Vijay Shankar won the toss and opted to field in the Elite Group H match, Dhull lost opening partner Dhruv Shorey (1) and No. 3 Himmat Singh (first-ball duck) quickly, TN fast bowler Sandeep Warrier sending back both batters. But Dhull forged a 60-run stand for the third wicket with Nitish Rana (25) and then a 119-run partnership with Jonty Sidhu for the fourth wicket, getting to his century in 133 balls when he cut B Aparajith behind point for a couple.
He didn't last too long after that, though, as he was trapped in front by a full delivery from M Mohammed, the experienced right-arm medium pacer, for 113 off 150 balls. His innings included 18 hits to the boundary.
Mohammed, in fact, could have had Dhull's number earlier, when he had the batter caught at short midwicket on 97. But it was a no-ball.
"We had two options. Either we bench the kid or we play him wherever a slot is available. We needed an opener and he was told he needs to open. He is not an opener but immediately agreed. These are also traits that you look in a cricketer," Delhi selector Chaitanya Nanda told PTI.
"You don't groom players by putting them in the bench. You have to play them. He is a No. 3 player and so opening isn't a bad option for him. Yes, he will have his failures and teams will start reading him better and more experienced first-class bowlers will have his measure.
"That's when we as selectors and also elders need to stand by him and help sail through that phase."
Dhull had been a revelation at the Under-19 World Cup, in which he scored 229 runs in just four innings at an average of 76.33. What was especially impressive was the way he returned after a gap, when he tested positive for Covid-19
along with a number of his team-mates. Batting in the middle-order in the tournament, he scored 82 in 100 balls
in India's opening game, against South Africa, but then missed two games, against Uganda and Ireland. On his return, he was unbeaten on a 26-ball 20
as India breezed past Bangladesh in their Super League quarter-final, before hitting a run-a-ball 110
in the Super League semi-final against Australia. In the final, though, he scored just 17 runs
, but he did play a role in getting India to a position of strength alongside Shaik Rasheed (50) as they chased 190 for victory.
As for his captaincy, Under-19 coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar was full of praise
after the title had been won, saying, "(Dhull) led them very well, he has a good head on his shoulders, he read the game situation and what players would want."
Since then, apart from being blooded at the first-class level by Delhi, Dhull has earned himself an IPL gig
with Delhi Capitals (sold at INR 50 lakh) too, along with Under-19 World Cup team-mates Raj Angad Bawa
(Punjab Kings), Rajvardhan Hangargekar (Chennai Super Kings) and Vicky Ostwal (Capitals).