Dhawan twirls muscle and then moustache
A few incidents in real life are scripted from dreams. And when that script is lived out, it captivates the audience in a charm, a spell. It takes the protagonist in a state which oscillates between dream and reality. He knows it is happening, right there, but he feels he might open his eyes and it will be gone.
These are the feelings Shikhar Dhawan experienced on the third day of the Mohali Test. After returning unbeaten on 185 in his first innings as a Test cricketer, an overwhelmed Dhawan said, “It’s like I’m dreaming”.
For the 27-year-old opening batsman from Delhi, his Test debut was redemption of sorts. “I still remember when I made my ODI debut, that too, against Australia, and got out for a duck,” he recalled in a chat with bcci.tv.
“After that I told myself that I will make a century on my Test debut. I was very well prepared for this and I knew that if I get a chance I will make it count. God has been kind and today I achieved my dream.”
Dhawan was wrong. He not only achieved his aim but surpassed it by miles. He didn’t merely score a century on Test debut but also made it the fastest by a Test debutant – in 85 balls. After fulfilling his dream, Dhawan didn’t stop. He continued to maul the Australians to stand on the verge of a double ton. “I’d love to score a double century and then stay at the wicket for as long as possible,” he said after batting for two sessions, scoring 185 runs in 168 balls. Figure out his appetite for runs for yourself.
Like in every perfect script, there was drama in Dhawan’s too. He came excruciatingly close of being, perhaps, the first cricketer ever to get out without facing a ball in Test cricket after Mitchell Starc accidentally performed a 'Mankad'. Dhawan, who was at the non-striker end was well out of his crease.
Technically, he was run-out. But the closest Australia came to appealing was Michael Clarke jokingly signalling for a third umpire review. “When I walked back to the pavilion at lunch, I was laughing thinking that I could’ve created history today of getting out without facing my first ball in Test cricket,” Dhawan chuckled.
Once he resumed post-lunch, Dhawan was on fire straight away. He dispatched the ball with the panache, ease and confidence that defied the nerves of a debutant. He later said the demeanour was a put-up. That he was indeed nervous inside. After watching his entire knock, we naturally didn’t believe him.
“I was in a very good flow today,” Dhawan pointed out the apparent before revealing the hidden. “But I was also controlling myself. I didn’t want to go rash and lose my wicket.” Despite the virtual absence of a rash shot, he smashed 33 fours and two sixes, which amounts to 78 per cent of hi runs on the day.
The hallmark of Dhawan’s innings was the ease with which he played on the front foot. He walked down the track to seamers, played the pull shot on the front and cut the ball through point while still out of the crease. “That’s my instinct and that’s what I practice always. They pitched a few short balls at me but I hit them for boundaries. Maybe that forced them to bowl fuller,” Dhawan explained without a hint of cockiness.
What was evident from his words was pride, not only of his exemplary knock but also of the moment before the match. The moment that he had earned. “I felt really proud when Sachin [Tendulkar] paaji gave me my Test cap.
“He told me, ‘we’ve all known you as a gutsy batsman and you’ve been doing really well in your career. We’d love to see you do something gutsy out there’. By the grace of god, a very gutsy thing happened,” Dhawan said shortly before being put in a fix and asked to choose which moment was more special – receiving his cap from Tendulkar or scoring his first Test ton.
After an unsuccessful attempt at diplomacy, Dhawan gave in, “Sachin paaji. I can make another century but that moment will never come again, the one that Sachin paaji gave me,” the soft smile on his face reflected his emotion.
As joyful as his innings was Dhawan’s twirling of his long moustache as he walked back to the dressing room after the day’s play. “I belong to a Punjabi family and everyone keeps this moustache. I grew it just to try it out and I love it. Even my wife loves it,” he said.
So does he intend to make the tache-twirl his signature century celebration? “No, it was just a funny moment between me and Bhajji paaji [Harbhajan SIngh]; he did it so I just replied to his gesture. But once you keep a moustache it becomes more of a habit.”
Let’s hope the same proves true for a swashbuckling Test century. Once you score it, may it become a habit.