Dhawan backs Rashid to come good de­spite bru­tal first day for spin­ner

The National - News - - SPORT - Paul Radley

Shikhar Dhawan ex­pects Rashid Khan to take “se­ri­ous wick­ets” in his Test ca­reer, de­spite in­flict­ing a harsh start on him in the for­mat.

The Afghan leg-spin­ner was much talked about ahead of his coun­try’s first Test match, thanks to two pro­lific sea­sons in the In­dian Premier League with Sun­ris­ers Hyderabad.

His threat was im­me­di­ately blunted, though, by some sav­age bat­ting by his Sun­ris­ers team­mate Dhawan, who be­came the first In­dian player ever to hit a cen­tury be­fore lunch on the first day of a Test.

Dhawan ac­knowl­edged that two sea­sons of bat­ting in the nets with Rashid as col­leagues in the IPL had given him an ad­van­tage. He made 107 from 96 balls, reach­ing three fig­ures with four min­utes to spare be­fore the lunch in­ter­val.

Rashid’s own hun­dred – runs con­ceded – ar­rived in 17 overs. But he showed his class by tak­ing one for 15 in a nine-over ses­sion as Afghanistan fi­nally gained a foothold in the game in the evening ses­sion.

“They came back well,” Dhawan said. “I am sure they are go­ing to learn lots of things. Of course he is a top-class bowler and I re­ally en­joyed my bat­tles with him.

“Of course, I dom­i­nated, so I en­joyed it – but he is a great bowler. On his day, he can take some se­ri­ous wick­ets.

“The ad­van­tage I had is that I have faced him in nets for two years as we play for the same team in IPL, so I was used to his bowling. That helped me.”

Dhawan was the sixth player in his­tory – and the first In­dian – to score a cen­tury be­fore lunch on day one of a Test.

He said he only be­came aware of the fact after see­ing it on the tele­vi­sion.

“I didn’t know [about his new record] and once I came back I read it on the TV and felt grate­ful about it,” he said.

On a day of firsts, Yamin Ah­madzai be­came the first Afghan to take a Test wicket.

The seam bowler re­moved Dhawan after Mo­hammed Nabi claimed a ric­o­chet at first slip.

By the close, Yamin was the pick of the bowlers, with 2-32, as In­dia reached stumps on 347-6.

“This was a dream come true for our na­tion,” Yamin said. “It was en­joy­able, although there was a lit­tle stress.

“Play­ing in In­dia, with In­dia be­ing the No 1 team was a good ex­pe­ri­ence. There are still four days to go.

“In the se­cond half, we started to get a grip on the game.

“We de­cided to go with an­other plan, which was a lit­tle de­fen­sive. We were suc­cess­ful with that.”

Shikhar Dhawan smashed a cen­tury be­fore lunch yes­ter­day

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