England’s Keaton Jennings said hitting a century on Test debut three days after arriving in India was like a “surreal dream” at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
Jennings, the son of South African former wicketkeeper and coach Ray, was not part of the original touring party for the five-match series and was only called up from the England Lions squad in the United Arab Emirates.
The 24-year-old replaced teenager Haseeb Hameed, who broke his little finger during England’s defeat in the third Test in Mohali and returned home to undergo surgery.
Jennings could not have hoped for a better start to the first day of his England career after hitting 112 on Thursday in the fourth and penultimate Test against India.
“I woke up at 5 o’clock this morning thinking I will miss the bus,” Jennings told reporters with a broad grin on his face. “So I jumped out of bed, panicked where everything is… settled myself down and then I saw the time.
“It’s been a dream come true and surreal that it’s come on debut.”
The opener settled down after that, growing in confidence and playing some delightful drives and fine sweep shots.
On 96, he played an audacious reverse sweep against off-spinner Jayant Yadav for a boundary to bring up his maiden Test hundred.
“When the ball lifted up to gully my heart was in my mouth and just thought you got a nought in your first innings. But thankfully it went to ground,” Jennings said, adding that he intended to speak to his father later on to relive his special day.
His celebrations at scoring his century were low key, given the momentous occasion.
“The ground went a little bit dull and I kind of mugged up a little bit,” Jennings said. “I suppose at that moment you don’t really want to jump around and go ballistic.
“The emotion that went over me, the elation, the pride and the satisfaction to get to a Test hundred was really incredible, really special.”
Once Hameed, who watched on from the stands on Thursday, regains fitness, Jennings may have to vacate his position as captain Alastair Cook’s opening partner and drop down the order.
Jennings said he hopes he can do enough to make the selectors think hard about what to do.
“Thankfully, it’s not my problem. Hopefully I can keep going the way I have gone today and make it a good problem,” Jennings said. “It’s out of my hands and it’s not controllable for me.
“If I play, two Tests, one Test, whatever in my career, hopefully I can make them two happy Tests.”