In Stats: Dhawan Joins Elite Club, Rashid’s Slow Start in Tests

There was plenty of hype surrounding Afghanistan’s Test match debut. After all, this was a team which had emerged from a war-torn country, from amidst the carnage and the ruins. In their brief period of competing in limited-overs internationals, the Afghanistan cricketers had won the hearts of cricket fans around the world. And cricket administrators therefore saw it as natural progression that they be inducted into the Test match circuit.

On the first day of their inaugural Test match, the eleven players who became the first men to represent Afghanistan in Test cricket quickly discovered that Test cricket was unforgiving and the demands of the format were altogether different from the limited-overs formats they had mastered over the last couple of years.

In the first session of Day 1 of their first-ever Test match – up against India who are the number one ranked team in the format, Afghanistan were blown away. The Indian openers scored at nearly a run a ball, scoring 158 runs without being separated. The Indian batsmen were seldom tested in the first and second sessions and made merry; when Tea was taken after 45.1 overs, India were sitting pretty at 248-1.

The Afghanistan team had established a reputation of being believers – a characteristic they showcased in the third and final T20I against Bangladesh about a week ago when they converted a lost cause into a win. On Thursday, once the nerves of the historic occasion had evaporated, that trait came to the fore once again as Afghanistan staged a comeback in the final session of the day.

The bowlers cut down on the boundary-scoring deliveries, the fielders cut down the singles and held their catches, they steadily built pressure and reaped the rewards – picking up final wickets in the extended final session.

At one stage, India were cruising, looking good to even score 450 runs on the day. But a disciplined comeback from Afghanistan, and the loss of 12 overs to rain meant India could only get to 347-6 at the end of the first day’s play.

Dhawan Joins Elite Club

The stand out feat of the day was Shikhar Dhawan’s century – which made him the first Indian batsman to score a Test hundred before lunch on Day 1. The left-hander respected the bowlers in the initial thirty minutes of the day – scoring 10 from 17 balls in the first six overs, yet reached the three-figure mark in the penultimate over before lunch.

Dhawan got to his half-century off 47 balls, and needed only 40 more deliveries to get to his hundred. This century would be his second-fastest hundred in Test cricket.

In the build up to this Test, all the focus and chat was about how the Indian batsmen would fare against the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman – two bowlers who had tasted plenty of success and troubled several Indian batsmen in the recently-concluded season of the Indian Premier League. On Day 1 though, it was the two pacers – 25-year old Yamin Ahmadzai and 18-year old Wafadar – who emerged as Afghanistan’s best bowlers. The two right-arm quicks got the ball to move around and beat the ball on several occasions – particularly in the first session.

Yamin Ahmazdai became Afghanistan’s first wicket-taker in Test cricket when he angled one across and had Shikhar Dhawan caught in the slip cordon. His new-ball partner – Wafadar got one to dart back in sharply and trapped Murali Vijay leg-before wicket. In the following over, Ahmadzai returned to dismiss KL Rahul – the batsman dragging the ball back onto his stumps on this occasion.

Where the more-fancied spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman conceded boundaries aplenty and failed to bowl maiden overs, the two new-ball bowlers bowled 10 maiden overs in their 28 overs combined. Ahmadzai ended the day with figures of 2-32 and a very good economy rate of 2.46, while his partner Wafadar’s figures at Stumps read 1-53 and an economy rate of 3.53.

Rashid Takes Time to Find His Rhythm

At one point in the second session of the day, Rashid Khan – who was expected to be the team’s bowling spearhead – had dismal figures of 11-0-78-0, an economy rate of 7.09. He found his bearings thereafter, conceding 42 runs in his following 15 overs (economy rate of 2.80).

. Read more on Cricket by The Quint. In Stats: Dhawan Joins Elite Club, Rashid’s Slow Start in Tests Three arrested in Bengal for sharing woman's nude photos on Whatsapp . Read more on Cricket by The Quint.

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