Bengaluru, June 14: Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay slammed brilliant tons while India's middle-order failed to do much damage as Afghanistan bowlers scripted a superb comeback towards the end of day's play on day of their debut Test match here on Thursday (June 14).
India scored 347/6 in 78 overs when the umpires dislodged the bales to signal stumps with Ravichandran Ashwin (7 not out) and Hardik Pandya (10 not out) were present at the crease.
Afghanistan bowlers, who were bludgeoned for runs in the first two sessions of the day's play, came back strongly in the third session to rattle India's middle-order. At one stage India were 280/1 but they lost five wickets till the end of the day's play who added mere 67 more runs.
Special message from @PMOIndia on the occasion of the historic debut of #Afghanistan @ACBofficials in the test arena against @BCCI tomorrow at #Bengaluru. #INDvsAFG @BCCISportsTv #Cricket pic.twitter.com/w7Mr37W83y— India in Afghanistan (@IndianEmbKabul) June 13, 2018
Afghan spinners struggled to contain the Indian batsmen in the first half of the day but they must be pretty convinced with their effort in the post-tea session. Afghanistan's key bowlers Rashid Khan (26-2-120-1) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (14-1-69-1) got one wicket each to put some brake on flow of India's run flow.
But Yamin Ahmadzai was the pick of the bowlers for Afghanistan with his figures of 13-6-32-2. While young pacer Wafadar lived up to his billings with his figures of 15-4-53-1.
Earlier, Vijay and his opening partner Dhawan bludgeoned the rookie Afghan bowlers into submission. Dhawan played an explosive knock of 96-ball 107 while Vijay grinded the opposition with a solid innings of 105 off 153 balls. The duo set the platform for mammoth first innings total for the hosts with a stand of 168 in only 28.4 overs.
Young Afghan pacers Yamin Ahmadzai and Wafadar started with the new ball and got a lot of purchase from the track which has a fair amount of grass and probed both the openers with their line and length. However, the seasoned campaigners i.e. Dhawan and Vijay soon showed their class and started adding runs on the board after India skipper Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and elected to bat first.
Dhawan welcomes Rashid into Test cricket in style:
The southpaw welcomed his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Rashid - who is ranked No. 1 ODIs and T20Is - in his trademark style by hammering 13 runs from the legspinner's maiden Test over. Rashid, who is known for his economical spells, conceded over 7 runs per over in his first spell.
Mystery spinner Mujeeb Zadran also leaked at 8 runs per over from his first spell and Nabi also leaked more than 5 runs per over.
Dhawan creates history:
Shikhar Dhawan became the first Indian in Test history as he slammed a ton off just 87 deliveries. Dhawan (107 off 96 balls) smashed 19 boundaries and 3 sixes and targetted Afghan spinners. The southpaw completed his ton with back-to-back boundaries off Rashid. It was the third occasion when Dhawan notched up his ton in a session and he's only behind Sir Don Bradman, who has done it six times.
Dhawan became Yamin Ahmadzai's victim as he edged the bowler and was caught by Mohammad Nabi at slip. With Dhawan's scalp, Ahmadzai etched his name in the history books by becoming the first bowler in his country's history to grab a Test wicket.
Left-handed batsman started from where he left in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018. After spending some time on the crease and surviving an edge which the visitors didn't review, the southpaw started dealing in boundaries and notched up his sixth Test half-century off just 47 deliveries.
He accelerated his innings after completing fifty and targetted Afghan spinners Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Zadran and Mohammad Nabi - whom skipper Stanikzai had claimed better than Indian spinners. Virender Sehwag (99* against West Indies) was the highest scorer for India in the first session of the opening day.
Vijay notches up 12th Test century:
The Tamil Nadu opener constructed his innings in his trademark style and went on notching up his 12th century. The right-handed batsman was troubled by the bowlers early on but once his nerves were settled he began tormenting the opposition bowlers.
He stitched a century-plus stand with Dhawan for the first wicket and another 100-run partnership with Rahul for the second wicket. Rain tried to break his concentration when he was batting in his 90s but the stylish batsman maintained his composure and reached his triple-figure mark. He was trapped in front by pacer Wafadar at 105.
Shikhar Dhawan becomes the first Indian and sixth overall to score a century before Lunch on first day of a Test.— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) June 14, 2018
Majid Khan, 1976
KL Rahul slams another fifty:
In the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli, Karnataka batsman KL Rahul came into bat at No. 3. The right-handed batsman played some fine strokes and cemented a partnership of 112 runs with Murali Vijay for the second wicket.
L Rahul, since his 199 at Chennai in December 2017, has 717 Test runs @ 39.83, with 10 fifties (HS 90)#IndvAfg— Mohandas Menon (@mohanstatsman) June 14, 2018
Rahul, who was one of the most destructive batsmen in the IPL 2018, notched up his 11th Test fifty but failed to convert it into a big knock yet again. He went to drive a ball leaving the off-stump but ended up playing it on to his wicket and gifted his wicket to Ahmadzai.
Rahane becomes Rashid's victim:
After the departure of set Rahul and Vijay in quick succession, skipper Ajinkya Rahane took the hosts past 300. The Mumbai batsman stitched a partnership of 34 runs for the fourth wicket before Rashid Khan trapped the Indian skipper in front. The bowler went upstairs after umpire showed no interest in his tight appeal. The ball-tracking ruled in favour of the bowler as it was hitting the stumps and thus star player from Afghanistan earned his maiden Test scalp.
Pujara departs for 35:
The Saurashtra batsman, who also happens to be Team India's most dependable run-getter after Kohli, looked in good touch. The right-handed batsman scored 35 off 52 balls, including six boundaries, but failed to convert it into a big knock. He was caught at leg slip by Mohammad Nabi, who dropped him a few minutes back at first slip, and gave Mujeeb his first Test success.
Unlucky dismissal for comeback man Dinesh Karthik:
Dinesh Karthik, who is making his comeback to India's Test squad after a gap of 87 matches, but he was dismissed for 4 after getting involved into a mix-up with Hardik Pandya and getting run out. The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman made his way back into the crease but his bat was in the air.
The last hour and a half has made this a genuinely engrossing first day's play. Excellent hundreds from Dhawan and Vijay but enough indication that this will become a good Afghanistan bowling unit.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) June 14, 2018
On a pitch that has a decent amount of grass covering in the right areas, Indians started their innings on a dominant note but lost key wickets in the third session to only to let the grip slip away from their hands by the end of the day's play. It's not that they have given away the match but they certainly gave an opportunity to the visitors to make a comeback.
Overcast conditions and seam movements will trouble the Indian lower-order on day two in the first hour on Friday. Rahane after winning the toss said, "We're going to bat first. Looks like a good wicket to bat on. There's some grass but in India it's important to bat first. Important to start well after the IPL/T20 season."
When asked about Afghanistan making their Test debut and his team's preparations he said, "Historic moment for both nations. The boys are very confident, especially the last Test we played in Jo'burg against South Africa. Our preparation has been fantastic, and it's been about tuning our mind rather than our skills. Coming from T20, it's all about changing your attitude and mindset. The guys are really looking forward to it.
Always an honour to captain India. We are not taking them lightly at all. All opponents are the same, and we wish to be ruthless here. The guys left out are Kuldeep, Saini, Nair, and Shardul."
Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai, on the other hand, expressed his happiness to be leading his team to their historic first Test.
"Proud that we are playing the first Test. All the guys have some first-class experience, but out first Test, obviously. First one hour, it will be a good wicket for bowling. If we get wickets, it'll be good for us" He remembers his playing XI! Graciously ends the list with his own name."