The IPL clearly has its advantages and Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan admits that he has been a direct beneficiary of facing Afghanistan star spinner Rashid Khan at the Sunrisers Hyderabad nets for the past two years.
Dhawan smashed his way to a 96-ball-107 and was especially severe on Rashid during his first session century as India finished the day at 347 for 6 on the first day of the historic one-off Test.
“One thing (advantage) is that I have faced him (Rashid) in the nets for the past two years as we play for the same IPL team. I am used to his bowling and that was an advantage for sure. It helped me,” Dhawan said at the post-match press conference.
Dhawan was happy that he won the battle against his Sunrisers teammate but at the same time expected Rashid to become a better Test match bowler with all the lessons that he would learn from this game.
“They came back very well in the final session and I am sure they are going to learn a lot of things and go a long way ahead. Of course, I enjoyed my battle with Rashid and I am happy that I dominated. But he is a great bowler and on his day, he will take some serious wickets,” Dhawan praised the young Afghan star.
He became the first Indian to score a hundred in the first session of a Test match and he didn’t know about it till he came back to the dressing room.
“It feels great. I didn’t know about the record till I came back into the dressing room at lunch where it showed on TV.”
While he came down the track to the spinners, the batsmen coming later didn’t do that. Dhawan refused to blame them.
“Every player has his own game and a team is made up of different characters. My game is different from Vijay’s. Each one of us has different qualities. There are a few who love to step out and hit while a few play spinners from within the crease. Each one has his own plan. My strength is to step out and I played accordingly.”
For Dhawan, attack is the best form of defence and he went with the flow from the start of the innings.
“I have full faith in my process and if you look at my earlier Test matches in Sri Lanka (barring the odd failure in Cape Town), I play with the same positive mindset. I was in good touch during IPL and wanted to continue with it,” Dhawan concluded.
They realised the dream of playing at the highest level but the beginning of the journey was “little stressful” said Afghanistan fast bowler Yamin Ahmadzai as the strife-torn nation made its Test debut against India on Thursday.
The gritty Afghans got a reality check when they were hammered around the park in the first session but saved the day by claiming five Indian wickets in the last session.
“Well, this was a dream which has come true for our nation. It was enjoyable, but a little stressful. Nevertheless, playing against India, the number one team, was a good experience. Still there are four days to go and we will try to do our best,” Ahmadzai said at the press conference.
“Getting a Test cap is the most important thing in cricketers’ lives. It is same for me as well. I cannot express it in words. There was excitement when we walked onto the field, but also were nervous,” he said.
The pacer, who took two of the six Indian wickets, said their spinners struggled in first session since they were trying too hard.
“Our bowlers especially Rashid was trying too much in the first session, but he bowled wicket-to-wicket on a pitch which began to grip in the last session. That is the reason why we came back strongly. Our bowlers picked five wickets,” he said.
Ahmadzai was the pick of the bowler as he ended the day with decent figures of two for 32 in 13 overs with six maidens.
Dhawan, who became the first Indian to score a century before lunch, and half centurion Lokesh Rahul were Ahmadzai’s prize scalps.
Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who were labelled as better spinners than India’s by captain Asghar Stankizai, picked one wicket each.