A class apart, gush Dhawan's coaches

Pat from mentors

It is rare that one comes across an Indian cricketer making a Test debut at age 27, let alone racing to the fastest century on maiden appearance. Shikhar Dhawan, an experienced under-achiever for long, defied both with a spectacular innings against Australia at the Punjab Cricket Stadium in Mohali.

Often chided for his recklessness in the past, Dhawan, who won the man of the series award in the 2004 under-19 World Cup, had to wait for 81 first-class matches before grabbing this opportunity.

A colourful personality off the field, Dhawan finally showed the maturity his talent commanded. The repertoire of his strokes on Saturday was vast and they pierced every corner of the ground.

His childhood coach Tarak Sinha was, understandably a proud man. "It was very satisfying to see Shikhar finally doing justice to his talent.

“He had to struggle a lot. After winning the man of the series award in the under-19 World Cup, one would have expected him make the senior ranks. That did not happen. But better late than never," Sinha told Deccan Herald.

"Earlier, he was casual; he could not stay for longer innings. Lately, frustration also set in. But now he has understood the value of his wicket. His fitness is his strength, he has got the experience and he has many more years of cricket ahead of him."

Sinha said he had advised Dhawan to make the best of the opportunity. “By the time he came out of under-19 level, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were already established players. So I told him this could well be his do-or-die moment. It was a very good innings by him today. It was his dream to play for the country and I am proud of him.”

Dhawan's Delhi Ranji coach Vijay Dahiya termed his hurricane hundred an "unbelievable innings".

"No matter what people say — that it is not the best Australian bowling line-up —  it was an unbelievable innings. Even Sachin Tendulkar would have been nervous when he played in his first Test.

It was a dream start. It is an innings which you will love to sit back and enjoy. It was a class apart," Dahiya said.

Highest debut innings

Player     RUNS    against     year
1 R Foster (Eng)    287    Australia    1903/04
2 J Rudolph (SA)    222 n.o.    Bangladesh    2003
3 L Rowe (WI)    214     New Zealand    1971/72
4 M Sinclair (NZ)    214    West Indies    1999/00
5 B Kuruppu (SL)    201 n.o    New Zealand    1986/87

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