Shikhar Dhawan, take a bow!
India opener Shikhar Dhawan made a brilliant unbeaten century on his debut against the Australians in Mohali
Dhawan, in his first Test, played an innings of absolute brilliance, staying unbeaten on a massive 185 from just 168 deliveries, to send records tumbling left right and centre, with opening partner Murali Vijay, untroubled and unfazed, giving him good company on 83 (181 balls, 10x4, 2x6) as India ended the day's play on 283 for no loss.
Australia had given themselves some hope after some outstanding rearguard action from Mitchell Starc and Steven Smith in the opening session, folding up for 408, but that will be forgotten now as Dhawan took centrestage to send the Australian bowlers and fielders scurrying for cover.
Dhawan's innings was filled with 33 boundaries and two hits over the ropes, each of them a joy to watch, particularly his brilliance through the off side.
There were plenty of question marks about the Delhi opener's capabilities of playing at the highest level, but he dispelled those doubters with an absolute vengeance as he carted the opposition's bowling all over the field.
The 27-year-old's century bore the look of a one-day innings more than the five-day format, as he raced to an 85-ball 100, the fastest ever by a debutant, before shattering the record held by Gundappa Vishwanath (137 in 1969) of being the highest Indian scorer on debut. India went into Tea on 156 for no loss, with 153 runs coming off just 28 overs.
The onslaught continued in the final session, as Vijay also got in on the act with a couple of delightful strokes. The day, though, completely and totally belonged to Dhawan as he finished the remarkable day just 15 short of what will be one of the best ever double hundreds.
Earlier, there was a much needed Aussie fightback in view, with Steven Smith and Mitchell Starc getting together to put on a vital partnership - although there was a little tinge of agony involved as well with both players getting out in the 90s.
Australia began on 273 for seven, and Starc immediately took over the aggressor's role, stroking the ball to the boundary at will, courtesy some delightful shots.
The fast bowler, quickly raced to 50, off just 81 deliveries, which included seven fours, with a nice flick to leg side as Australia closed in on the 350 mark.
However, two runs short of 350, Smith, looking good and seemingly on his way to a well-deserved hundred fell to the bowling of Pragyan Ojha for 92 (185 balls, 10x4, 1x6).
A nice off-spinner from the left-armer drew Smith forward, with the Aussie batsman being beaten in the flight, and allowing MS Dhoni to whip off the bails in a flash. The eighth wicket partnership gave Australia a massive 97 runs.
Starc did not seem too bothered by the dismissal, though, smashing Ojha in his next over for a couple of fours as he neared a remarkable landmark.
No. 10 batsman Nathan Lyon did his job well, hanging around and not throwing his wicket away, allowing Starc to keep scoring at will at the other end.
Nothing can prepare you for a maiden hundred in Test cricket, and unfortunately for the fast bowler the nerves showed when on 99, with Ishant Sharma (three for 72), sensing the opportunity, taking full advantage. After getting beaten a couple of times in the over, Sharma induced the outside edge, with Dhoni taking a nice low catch.
Starc could manage a smile, however, while walking off the field, knowing this innings of 99 (144 balls, 14x4) might just be the best he will ever play. The 23-year-old also joins his more illustrious compatriot Shane Warne on the list of players with a highest score of 99.
Australia folded their first innings soon after, with R Ashwin picking up the final wicket of Xavier Doherty, allowing Dhawan and Vijay to annihilate the Aussie bowling.
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