Afghanistan struggled through the opening two sessions of their maiden Test match before reining in the Indian batsmen.
With India’s score sitting on 280-1 in the 52nd over of Afghanistan’s first-ever Test match, the debutants would have been suffering from a serious crisis of confidence.
Shikhar Dhawan had stolen the thunder from the visitors, becoming only the sixth batsman in Test history to score a century before lunch on day one of a Test match ― the first Indian batsman to achieve this feat. Dhawan took the Afghanistan bowlers to task by slashing 104 runs from just 91 balls, peppering the boundary with 19 fours and three sixes. As a result, he only needed to run 10 of his runs before completing his seventh Test century.
Three batsmen had scored a century before lunch prior to the Second World War (Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney and Don Bradman), and Dhawan became only the third batsman to do so in the last 80 years, after Pakistan’s Majid Khan and Australia’s David Warner.
This is the third time that the 32-year-old has scored 100 runs in a session of play, having scored 106 runs in the second session of day three on his Test debut against Australia in 2013. He scored a whopping 187 off 174 balls that day, sharing a 289 partnership in 59.5 overs with Murali Vijay, who scored 153 ― and last year he scored 126 runs in the second session of day one against Sri Lanka in Galle.
Against Afghanistan today the two batsmen reprised their 2013 heroics, putting on 168 runs before Dhawan fell in the 29th over for 107 off 96 balls, Yamin Ahmadzai the bowler laying claim to his country’s first Test wicket.
Murali and Lokesh Rahul took the score to 280 before the opener fell for 105 off 153 balls, trapped leg-before off Wafadar, followed two balls later by his partner for 54 off 64 balls, Ahmadzai picking up his second wicket. The Afghanistan bowlers snapped up three wickets in the next 16 overs to restrict India to 347-6 at stumps, a credible performance considering that during the session after lunch speculation came about that India might be looking to extract statistical revenge by targeting the highest-ever score for a Test innings. That record had been set by Sri Lanka in 1997, when Sanath Jayasuriya’s 340 was the backbone of a monstrous 952-6 at Colombo… against India!
IPL star Rashid Khan had gone for over 100 runs when he picked up his much-anticipated first Test wicket, trapping Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane leg-before for 10 off 45 balls.
It’s certainly too early to suggest that the wheel of fortune has swung Afghanistan’s way, but the match is certainly far better positioned for them, provided their batsmen can get to grips with the Indian attack tomorrow.