'It is a great moment for me and my family'
Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a Test ton on debut, said it was a dream to do so well in his first match.
Shikhar Dhawan has a special connection with Aussies. Not only did he play his first ODI and Test against Australia, but his wife also hails from the same country. So, it was a dream come true for him to score a century on debut against the men from Down Under.
"Yes, I have an Australian wife; she is half Bengali, half British. She lives in Melbourne. And I have got two daughters, in Melbourne. I would like to thank them because they have been praying a lot for me back home. It is a great moment for me and my family," he said in Mohali on Saturday.
The day belonged to the Delhi batsman, who smashed his way to a breathtaking innings of 185 not out off just 168 balls, breaking many records along the way. Such was his domination with the bat that even his partner, Murali Vijay, who usually prefers to attack, was content playing second fiddle.
A visibly excited Dhawan exclaimed: "It feels very good. I would like to thank God. It was a dream for me to score so well on my debut."
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Image: Shikhar Dhawan
'I didn't feel that I rushed things'
For the record, he is the first Indian opener to score a century on debut. He also went past Gundappa Viswanath's score of 137 for a highest score by an Indian batsman on debut.
He and Vijay hammered 283 runs in 58 overs in two sessions to put India back in control after Australia's lower order had carried them to 408 in their first innings.
What stood out in Dhawan's batting on Saturday was the number of boundaries he hit during the course of his innings. He seemed to find gaps at will, as he hit as many as 33 boundaries and two sixes, to leave the Australian bowling attack in disarray.
The left-hander was in complete control and he completed his hundred within one session between the lunch and the tea break.
Asked whether he was in a hurry to get to the milestone, he replied: "No, I wasn't really playing in a hurry. The fours were going on their own after the ball hit the bat. Maybe that is why you thought I was in a hurry. But, I guess, I was in a good flow today. I felt my shot selection was good and I played according to how I had assessed the wicket. I didn't feel that I rushed things."
Image: Shikhar Dhawan of India celebrates his century
'I have worked hard and now I am a more mature player'
"There was no such strategy [to score fast], it was only that we had to play... Then I was hitting the ball well, I was middling the ball very nicely. My only focus was that I would play the ball on merit," he added.
For Dhawan, this comeback was not easy after being dropped from the Indian ODI squad nearly two years ago, having scored just 69 runs in five matches.
But the Delhi left-hander forced his way into the Test team on the basis of consistent performances at the domestic level.
He returned with a rich haul of 461 runs, at an average of 51.22, for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, hit two centuries for North Zone in the Duleep Trophy, got a century against England XI in a warm-up 50-overs game, followed by a half-century (63) in the Irani Cup for Rest of India against Mumbai.
"I have been working hard since I was dropped after I played the last One-day International for India. I worked really hard and changed myself and became a more mature player. I did very well in the domestic circuit, and was waiting for a chance to play in international cricket," he said.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan
'I was nervous at the start'
Dhawan said he was a bit nervous going in to bat initially, because he had got out for a duck against Australia on his ODI debut.
"I still remember when I debuted for India in One-dayers and got out on zero against Australia only. And then, [Mahendra Singh] Dhonibhai and Suresh Raina told me that the players who have got out on zero for India on debut... they went really big.
"This time I was nervous, that it was again Australia on my Test debut. But everything went well and I am really happy that I grabbed this opportunity and scored a century."
Dhawan, who received his Test cap from Sachin Tendulkar, revealed that the batting icon's advice to play freely helped."It was a great moment for me to get my cap from Sachinpaaji. It is always a great honour to play with him. As a kid, we all have dreamt that we wanted to play with Sachinpaaji, and that dream has come true. He told me 'we all have known you as a gutsy player, you have been performing well in the domestic circuit. We would like to see your gutsy nature and shots over here'," Dhawan said.
Image: Shikhar Dhawan