Dhawan hammered a listless Bangladesh bowling attack into submission with a scintillating century as India seized the initiative on a rain-hit opening day, reaching 239 for no loss in the one-off cricket Test, in Fatullah on Wednesday. Making full use of the opportunity that he got due to Sydney Test centurion KL Rahul’s illness, Dhawan dominated the proceedings from the start during his cracking unbeaten innings of 150 off 158 balls comprising 21 delectable boundaries.
There was a sharp contrast between the approaches adopted by India and Bangladesh, and that translated into the teams’ performance on the field. The touring side banked on Shikhar Dhawan’s authoritative unbeaten century to post a commanding 239 for no loss at the close of the rain-curtailed opening day’s play in the one-off Test at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium here on Wednesday.
Dhawan (150 batting, 158b, 21×4) and Murali Vijay (89 batting, 178b, 8×4, 1×6), achieved India’s highest opening partnership against Bangladesh after Virat Kohli began his full-time Test captaincy by calling correctly at the toss and electing to bat on a placid track.
Interestingly, Kohli fielded two off-spinners, thereby welcoming the seasoned Harbhajan Singh back to the international fold, along with three pacers.
On the contrary, Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim — who has opted to play purely as a batsman due to a sore finger, giving wicketkeeper-batsman Litton Das his debut — chose to go in with three spinners and only one regular seamer in the two-Test old Mohammad Shahid.
Under flood-lights in overcast conditions, Dhawan and Vijay found their groove effortlessly.
Dhawan, returning to the playing XI after missing the Sydney Test, and Vijay handled their innings clinically enough. They chose to bide their time, get their eye in and ensure their feet were moving before going for their shots.
Not for a moment did it appear that the two were playing the five-day format after six months.
Dhawan was at his best as he executed his trademark back-foot punch at will and switched to the attack mode as early as in the fourth over. The Delhi batsman played with a straight bat and pulled the ball with equal grace. When Dhawan hit Shahid for three boundaries in his fourth over, it spoke a lot about his intention.
Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan employed the ploy of posting two men in catching positions and three on the fence on the leg side to Dhawan. The southpaw accepted the challenge and stepped out to hit Shakib through the onside for a four. This signalled the beginning of the end of the home side’s resistance.
Dhawan late-cut off-spinner Shuvagata Hom to the third man fence to reach his 50 off just 47 balls with 10 boundaries.
Vijay curbed his natural stroke-making instincts, and survived some casual appeals. He seemed happy enough playing second fiddle while occasionally unleashing some of his classy shots.
The introduction of another left-arm spinner, Taijul Islam, ignited some hope for Bangladesh. The bowler with a quick, high-arm action generated some bounce and turn to test the Indians.
In an eventful 24th over, Dhawan, then on 73, ill-timed a shot off Taijul, but Hom could not hold on to the chance despite a fine diving attempt at short mid-wicket. After one more delivery, rain intervened and the umpires called an early lunch.On resumption, the home bowlers continued to look ordinary as the Indian pair kept at it.
Vijay flaunted his wristy elegance to collect some handsome fours. One of his shots, a brilliant cut off Shahid to the point boundary, brought the gritty right-hander his 11th half-century.
Dhawan swept leg-spinner Jubair Hossain to the deep mid-wicket ropes to reach his third Test hundred off only 102 deliveries.He was again let-off on 146 off Taijul, and went on to reach the 150-mark on the last ball of the day.