After all the adjectives have lingered and left, 'audacious' remains to best describe Shikhar Dhawan’s storming entry into Test cricket. I mean, you are supposed to be nervous when you first bat for your country aren’t you? You are supposed to say: 'this might be the only opportunity I get, don’t do anything stupid?' The mind has got to be in a bit of a whirl, the body tense and people are almost readying to pardon a touch of stage fright.
Instead, Dhawan plonked his front foot out to the quicker bowlers, lofted the spinners, played the reverse sweep and at 98 charged Peter Siddle. At 98 in his first Test! Obviously he had forgotten to pack fear when he left for Chandigarh and it showed as he moved relentlessly past all kinds of landmarks with some of the most ceaseless aggression you will see. Virender Sehwag in his prime would have been proud to play in the manner Dhawan did; as much for the clean strokeplay as for the duration of the performance.
He didn’t let the spinners settle, but you can, to some extent, expect that from aggressive Indian batsmen in much the manner you see young Aussies cutting and pulling. But what stood out for me was the cover drive. It wasn’t a slash, it wasn’t a standard 'hit through the line' shot on an easy batting surface. The right foot came out and he hit along the ground crisply. I couldn’t help but remember Sourav Ganguly at Lord’s in 1996, his hitting through the off-side was as good.
And I must admit this innings has surprised me because like so many others, I have seen a fair bit of Dhawan over the years. As I wrote in these pages a couple of days ago, he hadn’t done justice to his ability which had only flickered through over the last few years. Hopefully this will show him what he can do.
By producing one of the most dramatic debuts in Test cricket, Shikhar Dhawan has also put India in with a chance of winning a Test that has had a day lost to rain. When Australia posted 408, I tweeted that they couldn’t now lose the Test. They still shouldn’t, but if perchance they do, they would have managed the improbable.
Professional Management Group