Two memorable debuts... and a perfect swan song
While 2013 saw the sun set on one of the most successful cricket careers, it also threw up two new Indian stars in the galaxy, says Bikash Mohapatra.
'I'm so glad I got to see my record being broken,' Gundappa Viswanath was quoted as saying.
His 137 against Australia at Green Park (Kanpur) back in 1969 stood for a long time, as the highest score by an Indian batsman on debut.
That’s until Shikhar Dhawan bested it in March, against the same opposition.
The Australians came into the third Test at the PCA stadium (Mohali) having lost the first two. Intermittent rain and, consequently, a wet outfield ensured no play was possible on the opening day.
Winning the toss offered them hope. Putting up a formidable total on board (408), batting first, added to the confidence. With almost three days played, the visitors could afford to think they had saved the game.
Then disaster struck in the form of Dhawan.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
Dhawan smashed 187 runs off just 174 balls
Playing his maiden Test, the Delhi batsman smashed 187 runs, off just 174 balls, the fastest hundred by a batsman on debut.
The innings changed the course of the match… and series, Team India went on to complete a first ever whitewash (4-0) of the team from Down Under.
It was a memorable innings for sure, but one that was difficult to follow up. Dhawan has since scored just 84 runs in the three Tests he has played.
That knock, however, made him the 13th Indian batsman to score a century on debut. The 14th instance came eight months later, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan celebrates after completing his century
Rohit's moment of success arrives against West Indies
Rohit Sharma, having proved his worth in the shorter versions, was supposed to make his Test debut back in February 2010. However, a freak accident during practice, a couple of hours before the scheduled start, put paid to his hopes.
What followed was a 33-month wait. And, when opportunity finally came his way, in the opening Test against the West Indies, Rohit grabbed it with both hands.
Coming in to bat with the team in a spot of bother, at 82 for four, he batted with tremendous resolve to score a magnificent 177. He followed it up with an unbeaten 111 at the Wankhede stadium.
The two Tests that marked Rohit’s memorable debut also happened to be the final two of Sachin Tendulkar’s legendary career.
Image: Rohit Sharma
Tendulkar's final hurray
The Master Blaster had announced his intention to finally call it a day after 24 years in the game, following the second Test of that series, his record 200th match.
A batsman of Tendulkar’s stature probably deserved a better farewell series. The West Indies side offered no resistance whatsoever. That, however, didn’t stop his billion-plus frenzied fans.
First, in Kolkata, and then at his home ground, they came in numbers to bid adieu to their favourite cricketer, err, the cricketing god.
The Master didn’t disappoint. A strokeful 74 in his final Test innings brought down curtains on a career that yielded 15, 921 runs and 51 centuries.
Image: Sachin T
Kohli looks like he is up for the challenge
Tendulkar’s boots won’t be easy to fill. But Rohit, and the redoubtable Virat Kohli, who is getting better with every match, seem the safest bets to be tasked with the job.
If Virat’s batting (at No.4) in the opening Test against South Africa at the Wanderers is any indication, he seems more than keen on taking up the challenge.
Image: Virat Kohli
Photographs: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images