Mohali: An awe-inspiring Shikhar Dhawan made the day his own by bludgeoning his way to an unbeaten 168-ball 185 -- the fastest-ever Test century by a debutant, as a dominant India left Australia bruised and battered in the third match of the series here on Saturday.
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The hosts finished the day on a commanding 283 for no loss with Murali Vijay giving Dhawan company on a well-made 83 off 181 deliveries after Australia were bowled out for a competitive 408 in the first session.
The 27-year-old Dhawan was on a record-breaking spree as he raced to his century off a mere 85 balls, and was going strong, when the stumps were drawn on the third day of the penultimate Test, with the hosts still trailing by 125 runs
The Delhi left-hander surpassed the record of earlier fastest hundred on debut, which was in the name of West Indian Dwayne Smith, who reached his ton in 93 balls in the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in January 2004.
In the process, Dhawan also became the highest individual scorer for India on debut, beating the previous record held by Gundappa Vishwanath (137) against Australia at the Eden Gardens in 1969-70.
It was a breathtaking assault by Dhawan who unleashed a flurry of strokes on both sides of the wicket to leave the visitors in a daze as the Indians scored at a brisk run rate of 4.87.
Dhawan slammed 33 fours and two sixes during his blistering innings, during which he did not leave a single corner at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium (PCA) untouched.
The rollicking Dhawan-Vijay association was also the highest for the first wicket at this ground, and the best for India against Australia.
India smashed 127 runs in the final session, with a whopping 418 runs being scored on the day.
Murali Vijay played his part in the run-fest, contributing an unbeaten 85 with the help of 10 fours and two sixes.
By tea, he had hit 21 fours while spending 115 minutes in the middle, helping India score 153 runs in the 28 overs bowled in the second session of play.
It must be mentioned that Dhwan raced into the 90s without hitting a single ball in the air. What makes his effort even more praiseworthy is that he maintained a strike-rate of over hundred almost all through his innings.
It was a staggering 117.64 when Dhawan got to the three-figure mark.
The striking rate was 114.50 when Dhawan reached his 150, off 131 balls, phenomenal by Test cricket's standards.
The first time the left-hander hit the ball in the air was, when on 111, he chipped Nathan Lyon over cover, which too also resulted in a boundary.
Soon, he got his first six as he lofted Lyon over his head, this despite being beaten in the flight.
Earlier, one run was all that separated Starc from becoming the first number nine Australian batsman to notch up a century in India, as the visitors posted a competitive total.
Though he missed out on the hundred by a whisker, Starc, along with Steven Smith (92), frustrated the Indians for a while, helping Australia add 135 runs in the first session of play before Ravichandran Ashwin trapped last-man Xavier Doherty.
The Indians made three runs in the one over they played before lunch, with Vijay scoring all of them.
But, after the break, the show completely belonged to Dhawan who treated the Australian bowlers with disdain, playing some delightful shots, especially through the heavily populated off-side.
The onslaught continued in the final session as Dhawan raced from 105 to 185, with the addition of another 12 boundaries and two sixes.
Such was his off-side play that it would have pleased even Sourav Ganguly and former England captain David Gower.
The Delhi batsman's timing was impeccable and his shot-selection faultless.
Australians, literally, had no answer to counter Dhawan's strokeplay. The way Dhawan dominated the Aussies, it never looked like he was playing his maiden Test.
He was piercing the gaps on the off-side with consummate ease no matter how many fielders Michael Clarke employed to man the region.
In terms of statistics, he hit 19 fours in the first 23 overs, the joint-highest along with West Indian Chris Gayle.
Dhawan reached his 50 off just 50 balls, with the 12 fours in 72 minutes.
Earlier, Starc was caught-behind on 99 by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Ishant Sharma, which also dashed his hopes of becoming the first Australian in 66 years to score a century while batting at this position.
Ray Lindwall had scored an even 100 against England at the MCG in 1947 while coming out at number nine.
Another record tumbled on the day as Starc and Smith's 97-run association for the eighth wicket surpassed the previous best of 73 between Shane Watson and Brett Lee for this wicket at this ground. Starc was the more aggressive of the two.
Starc smashed 14 fours and faced 144 balls during his 146-minute stay at the crease. The 23-year-old left-hander from New South Wales was equal to task whether it was about facing pacers or the spinners.
Making a sort of a lucky comeback to the Test squad after more than two years in wilderness, Smith made it count with a career-best score that included 10 boundaries and a six. He occupied the crease for 235 minutes and faced 185 balls.
A well-deserved century in sight, Smith became victim of a viciously turning deliver from Pragyan Ojha and an equally good work by India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who stumped the batsman in a flash.
India heaved a sigh of relief, but Australia ensured they consolidate their position with another half-century partnership, for the ninth wicket Starc and Nathan Lyon, with the former firmly in control of the proceedings.
During the course of their innings, both the batsmen had surpassed their previous best Test scores.
While Smith's previous best effort -- 77 -- had come against Pakistan at Leeds, Starc's top-score prior to this match was 68 against South Africa, in Perth last year.
The two joined forces after pacer Peter Siddle was trapped in front by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja with Australia at 251 for seven yesterday evening.
It's not just that they added important runs but they did so at a fairly quick rate while keeping the Indian bowlers at bay.
Dhoni rotated his bowlers, but Smith and Starc put up a stoic defiance.
Resuming at 273 for seven, both Smith and Starc were at ease while dealing with the ball, which was 104 overs old at the start of the day’s play.
Starc made his intentions clear by pulling Ishant Sharma and then flicked Ravichandran Aswhin for another boundary.
After surviving a close lbw shout by Ishant, Smith got into the act driving him through the offside for his first authoritative shot of the day. Starc, meanwhile, played Ishant straight over his head as the ball sped to the fence in one bounce.
The new ball was taken after 108 overs, but it was not the quicker bowlers, but a spinner who gave India the first breakthrough of the day.
Having replaced Aswhin from the pavilion end, Ojha got one to turn and bounce sharply, and Dhoni completed a smart stumping with Smith's backfoot on the line.
For India, Ishant and Ravindra Jadeja finished with three wickets each, while Ashwin and Ojha had two apiece.