Dhawan stirs Vishy memories

Tale of two tons:I have never seen an innings like that in my lifetime, says legend

Dhawan stirs Vishy memories

For 44 years, GR Viswanath held the reco­rd for the highest score by an Indian on debut. On Mar­ch 16, Shikhar Dhawan stun­ned the world with an innin­gs that took him past the le­g­endary Karnataka batsman.

It would seem like Dhawan, who in the process of that fiery 187 (250m, 174b, 33x4, 2x6) against Australia also made the record for the fastest Test century on debut, had not only overtaken Viswanath in terms of number of runs but also when it came to strike-rate. But Viswanath was not too far off Dhawan’s pace when he made his 137 against Australia on November 19, 1969 at Kanpur.

Viswanath, who was out for a duck in his first Test innings, returned for his second stint at the crease to send the Australians on a leather hunt. The stylist batsman scored that wonderful 137 with 25 hits to the fence. At that time, it was not customary to keep track of number of balls faced, so one can only guess how many deliveries Viswanath had actually played during his 354-minute stay at the crease.

Fastforward nearly four and a half decades to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali, the 27-year-old -- who coincidentally fell for a duck against the same opponents in his 50-over debut -- scored at a similar pace. Dhawan’s innings, Viswanath said, made him slip back into the past.

“Shikhar's innings brought back a lot of memories (of my own innings),” Viswanath began. “I think I scored at a fairly brisk pace going by how many boundaries I had scor­ed. I think I was almost as fast as Shikhar,” Viswanath said of Dhawan who blasted 25 fours and a six while reaching 130.

“I am not saying ‘I know I was as quick as him’ but when he reached the 130 mark, he had scored around 25 boundaries and I remember that I had scored as many. We will never know how many balls I took to get there because they did not keep a count of the number of balls that time, but I think I was close (laughs). After Shikhar crossed my mark, I wanted him to reach 200 as that would have been a good benchmark.”

Asked if he was glad to see Dhawan overtake his record, Viswanath said: “I’m very glad. I thought Dhawan's knock was fantastic and it seemed like it was just one of those days when everything went right for him. He kept hitting the ball with perfect timing. It was a brilliant innings. I have never seen an innings like that in my lifetime and I was beginning to wonder if I would see anyone overtake my record. I am very blessed that I was able to see this innings in my lifetime. I would say it was a privilege.”

Dhawan’s innings came as a surprise to everyone -- not for its brisk rate or the amount of runs -- but for the way he compiled those runs. The left-hander, who is known for his penchant for dispatching every delivery out of the ground, was more calculative in his aggression at Mohali. “The one thing about his innings that I particularly took notice of was the way in which he scored the runs. He barely went over the top.

He kept the ball along the ground and he played very calmly. It was amazing to watch. I have seen him play in the IPL and he likes to take on bowlers but this was something different. This was him having one of those days where everything fell in place,” remarked the chairman of the KSCA Academy, who had corrected Dhawan’s stance during India’s U-19 camp at the NCA.

“When he came to NCA (National Cricket Academy) with the Indian under-19 team, I saw that he had the tendency to lean forward with his right shoulder. That kept his right leg rooted and so he was not able to reach the pitch of the ball. To counter his inability to get to the pitch of the ball, he would end up trying to reach it with the bat and he would end up edging the ball more often than not. We worked on it and he has come a long way since.”

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