The long wait to break into India's Test team made Shikhar Dhawan's resolve to succeed at the highest level stronger, feels his childhood coach Tarak Sinha.
"The opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir was successful for a long time, so compared to other cricketers, Shikhar got his chance a bit late. But better late than never. I am proud of him but what makes him stand out is his steely resolve.
"He knew that Viru-Gauti are a settled opening pair and he needed to wait for his chance. I am happy that he has made use of the opportunity to the fullest," Sinha, who has coached Dhawan since the cricketer was 12 said on Saturday.
Dhawan created history on Saturday by cracking the fastest-ever Test century in the third cricket Test against Australia and was unbeaten on a 168-ball 185 at the end of the third day.
Sinha has been associated with Delhi's famous Sonnet Club which has produced international cricketers like Ashish Nehra, Raman Lamba, Ajay Sharma to name a few.
"Shikhar always had the talent but more than anything had the guts. Not many people know that he was a wicketkeeper when he first came under my guidance. I realized he was special when as a 12 year-old, he scored a hundred in an U-15 school tournament. Even after doing well in the U-19 World Cup in 2004 (he had 3 centuries), he had to fight a lot," recollects Sinha.
"When he came into the Delhi side, it had established players like Sehwag, Gambhir, Aakash Chopra, Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia but he fought and cemented his place. His junior Virat Kohli raced ahead and made a name in international cricket. He didn't lose hope, carried on his good work," said Sinha.
Asked about his game, Sinha said, "He is a superb off-side player. His cover drives are a treat to watch. The only thing that bothered me was his tendency to get out after a pleasant 30 or 40. I had sessions with him and made him understand that to play international cricket, he needs to bat long and score big."
Dhawan's one-time teammate and now Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya is ecstatic after watching the knock.
"It's an innings where you just sit back and savour his achievements. He has matured a lot in the last two seasons. This year, he anchored a chase against Maharashtra where he played a different kind of innings. He now values his wicket even more," said Dahiya.
Although it is premature to predict how he will fare on South African tracks, Dahiya feels that this innings will keep him in good stead.
"He made his Test debut at 27 which is a bit late by today's standard. But that also meant that he was more matured than the 18-20 year olds who are thrown at the deep end of the pool. Shikhar knew that he will have to wait for his chance and he did that," said Dahiya.