KL Rahul and Vijay have added 80 runs since the departure of Dhawan. © BCCI
After Shikhar Dhawan fell for a stunning 96-ball 107, Murali Vijay (94*) and KL Rahul (33*) piled on Afghanistan’s agony as they cemented India’s strong position (248 for 1) at Tea on Day 1 of the one-off Test in Bengaluru, on Thursday (June 14). With Vijay just six runs short of completing his 12th Test century, play was stopped due to rain and the umpires decided to call for the Tea break.
At the start of the second session, the opening duo of Dhawan and Vijay resumed India’s innings. Dhawan, who became the first Indian to compose a hundred before Lunch on the opening day, could add only three more runs to his tally as he was dislodged by Yamin Ahmadzai. The left-handed batsman was late in loading up his back foot, resulting in the front foot not moving towards the pitch as he edged one to the slip cordon. Incidentally, Rahmat Shah fluffed the chance at second slip but Mohammad Nabi was alert to grab it via a rebound.
Rahul and Vijay, however, built on the solid platform laid by Dhawan. Rahul gave a glimpse of his flair by skipping down the track to drive Mujeeb Ur Rahman. He also opened the bat face to drive Mujeeb for another boundary in the same over. Vijay, who was tentative in the first session, also grew in confidence as his innings progressed. The way he pulled and flicked Rashid Khan in the 32nd over capsulises the point.
The pair soon stitched an unbeaten stand of 80 as the opposition ranks looked quite flat on the field. At that juncture of the day, heavens opened up and it started to rain. For a while, rains seemed to have eased out before it again picked up as Tea was taken.
Earlier, it turned out to be a chastening experience for Afghanistan in their inaugural Test as Dhawan ran riot in the morning session. India, who elected to bat, were off to a slightly tentative start. Ahmadzai, with an open-chested action, troubled Vijay by nipping it both ways. Dhawan, his batting partner, was more assured as he crunched a string of boundaries off Ahmadzai. It was only when Nabi came into the attack, Dhawan decided to showcase his full range of shots. The southpaw batsman skipped down the track to loft the offspinner into the stands. He also swept the same bowler in his next over to alter Nabi’s length.
Eventually, Ashgar Stanikzai, the captain, had to introduce his trump card Rashid into the attack. He too couldn’t put the lid on the scoring rate as Dhawan didn’t allow him to settle into a rhythm by tonking him a few times into the boundary hoardings. In the 20th over of the innings, he also picked Rashid’s main weapon – the googly – and deposited him into the stands. Dhawan also achieved the milestone of reaching his hundred before Lunch on Day 1 by cracking a cover drive off Rashid. He received a rousing applause from the crowd for his stunning achievement.
Despite losing Dhawan after the Lunch break, Indian batsmen have been scoring freely. On the other hand, the visiting camp would hope for better discipline from their bowlers, once play resumes.