Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay hit tons, hand Afghanistan harsh Test baptism
Afghanistan were given a rough introduction to Test cricket with both India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay helping themselves to superb centuries on the opening day of the one-off match on Thursday.
By the end of the day, India had posted 347/6 in 78 overs, despite two rain interruptions that saw over 100 minutes of play lost at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Shikhar Dhawan (107 – 96b, 19x4, 3x6) became the first India batsman to score a Test century before lunch on Day 1 while Vijay (105 – 153b, 15x4, 1x6) reached his 12th century in a more sedate fashion.
It was a historic day for war-torn Afghanistan, but while their pacers rose to the occasion, the fab spin trio of Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Mujeeb ur Rahman got hammered all around the park in the first two sessions of play.
Rashid and Mujeeb did come back in the last hour, troubling the batsmen with their variations, showing a glimpse of what could have been had they found their line and length earlier in the day.
After going for a plenty for most of the day, Rashid came to his own when the ball got older, castling stand-in India skipper Ajinkya Rahane for 10. Mujeeb at the other end troubled Pujara with variations before having him caught at leg gully for 35.
Afghan pacers Yamin Ahmadzai and Wafadar tried to keep things tight but too many loose balls meant the India openers were never troubled. The openers played contrasting innings. While Dhawan was adventurous and looked to dominate, Vijay waited patiently for scoring opportunities. Dhawan started off with a couple of boundaries off Yamin and Wafadar, while Vijay happily chugged along.
A 168-run stand for the first wicket included some brutal shots by Dhawan with Afghan spinners doing nothing to trouble the batsmen. The plan was to not to allow the spinners to settle down and it worked as Mohammad Nabi, introduced in the ninth over, went for runs with Dhawan helping himself to a couple of boundaries every over.
Rashid Khan, star of the Afghan side after his T20 exploits, was welcomed to Test cricket with three fours in his first over. Dhawan was well placed to take on Rashid, his teammate in Sunrisers Hyderabad, and it clearly showed as he was hammered for two fours and a six in the 20th over. At this point, India were motoring along at over five runs an over.
While the spinners failed to make an impact, Yamin and Wafadar did bring some cheers for the side. Yamin became the first bowler to take a Test wicket for Afghanistan when he had Dhawan caught at slips while Wafadar accounted for Vijay, trapped leg before. KL Rahul, promoted ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara, chopped Yamin’s wide deliveries on to the stumps for 54.
Afghanistan, led by the spinners, though pulled things back in the third session, taking five wickets while conceding 99 runs in 32 overs. India lost five wickets for 54 runs during that phase.