An awe-inspiring Shikhar Dhawan made the day his own by bludgeoning his way to an unbeaten 168-ball 185 — the fastest-ever Test century by a debutant, as a dominant India left Australia bruised and battered in the third match of the series here today.

The hosts finished the day on a commanding 283 for no loss with Murali Vijay giving Dhawan company on a well-made 83 off 181 deliveries after Australia were bowled out for a competitive 408 in the first session.

The 27-year-old Dhawan was on a record-breaking spree as he raced to his century off a mere 85 balls, and was going strong, when the stumps were drawn on the third day of the penultimate Test, with the hosts still trailing by 125 runs.

The Delhi left-hander surpassed the record of earlier fastest hundred on debut, which was in the name of West Indian Dwayne Smith, who reached his ton in 93 balls in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2004.

In the process, Dhawan also became the highest individual scorer for India on debut, beating the previous record held by Gundappa Vishwanath (137) against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 1969-70.

It was a breathtaking assault by Dhawan who unleashed a flurry of strokes on both sides of the wicket to leave the visitors in a daze as the Indians scored at a brisk run rate of 4.87.

Dhawan slammed 33 fours and two sixes during his blistering innings, during which he did not leave a single corner at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium (PCA) untouched.

The rollicking Dhawan-Vijay association was also the highest for the first wicket at this ground, and the best for India against Australia.

India smashed 127 runs in the final session, with a whopping 418 runs being scored on the day.

Murali Vijay played his part in the run-fest, contributing an unbeaten 85 with the help of 10 fours and two sixes.

By tea, he had hit 21 fours while spending 115 minutes in the middle, helping India score 153 runs in the 28 overs bowled in the second session of play.

It must be mentioned that Dhwan raced into the 90s without hitting a single ball in the air. What makes his effort even more praiseworthy is that he maintained a strike-rate of over hundred almost all through his innings.

It was a staggering 117.64 when Dhawan got to the three-figure mark.

The striking rate was 114.50 when Dhawan reached his 150, off 131 balls, phenomenal by Test cricket’s standards.

The first time the left-hander hit the ball in the air was, when on 111, he chipped Nathan Lyon over cover, which too also resulted in a boundary.

Soon, he got his first six as he lofted Lyon over his head, this despite being beaten in the flight.

Earlier, one run was all that separated Starc from becoming the first number nine Australian batsman to notch up a century in India, as the visitors posted a competitive total.

Though he missed out on the hundred by a whisker, Starc, along with Steven Smith (92), frustrated the Indians for a while, helping Australia add 135 runs in the first session of play before Ravichandran Ashwin trapped last-man Xavier Doherty.

The Indians made three runs in the one over they played before lunch, with Vijay scoring all of them.

But, after the break, the show completely belonged to Dhawan who treated the Australian bowlers with disdain, playing some delightful shots, especially through the heavily populated off-side.

The onslaught continued in the final session as Dhawan raced from 105 to 185, with the addition of another 12 boundaries and two sixes.

Such was his off-side play that it would have pleased even Sourav Ganguly and former England captain David Gower.

The Delhi batsman’s timing was impeccable and his shot-selection faultless.

(This article was published on March 16, 2013)
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