Dhawan ton puts India in control in Afghanistan’s test debut


BENGALURU: Shikhar Dhawan raced to a century as the Indian openers built on a solid start to reach 158 without loss at lunch on day one of the one-off match against test newcomers Afghanistan on Thursday.

The 32-year-old left-handed batsman, unbeaten at 104, became the first Indian to score a hundred before lunch on the opening day of a test, while Murali Vijay was happy to keep the scoreboard ticking with 41 not out.

In overcast conditions at Bengaluru’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Dhawan made a confident start with a couple of glorious cover drives after stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and chose to bat.

Afghanistan’s first real chance of a breakthrough came in the 10th over when Dhawan appeared to edged a swinging delivery from Wafadar to wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai, but captain Asghar Stanikzai decided against reviewing the decision.

Dhawan went on to complete his seventh test hundred in just 87 deliveries with 18 fours and three sixes, while Vijay edged closer to his 16th half-century in tests.

Afghanistan quicks Wafadar and Yamin Ahmadzai, who have played a combined 25 first-class games in their career, struggled to make full use of seamer-friendly conditions in the opening hour of the session.

Afghan spin spearhead Rashid Khan was taken apart by an aggressive Dhawan as he conceded 51 runs in seven overs. Off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman was hit for 32 in his four overs.

Led by Asghar Stanikzai, Afghanistan became the 12th test playing nation after being awarded the full member status alongside Ireland in June last year.

Rahane is leading the Indian side in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, who is recovering from a neck injury.