Dhawan ton puts India in control in Afghanistan's test debut


Can a 17-year-old Mujeeb, who hasn't played a single four-day game in his career, trouble a KL Rahul with whom he shared the IPL dressing room at the Kings XI Punjab?

Come Thursday, cricketing history will be made when the Indian national side takes on Afghanistan's newly put-together team in their first Test match after the latter gained Test playing nation status a year ago. But I would say our spinners have a lot of experience and I would say experience can't be easily bought. I always prepare intensely before each and every series but as of now the focus on this Test match. Spin. Led by the dynamic Rashid Khan and ably supported by the teenage Mujeeb ur Rahman, Afghanistan boast of a slew of spinners capable of weaving a web around any high quality batsman.

In March, the teenager became the fastest bowler to reach 100 one-day global wickets, and is now the world s top-ranked Twenty20 bowler.

Afghanistan have become one of only 12 nations sanctioned to play Tests, the five-day format considered cricket´s peak, after defying heavy odds to emerge as a force in the game.

With his sublime ton, Dhawan took India to a comfortable 158 for no loss at lunch on the opening day of the one-off Test at M Chinnaswamy Stadium. He played a few seasons in the IPL before poor performances and lack of form ensured that he was left out in the cold.

Dhawan bludgeoned the rookie Afghan bowlers into submission with a power-packed unbeaten 104 (91 balls) while Murali Vijay (41 no off 72 balls) held one end up with the home team setting the foundation for what promises to be a mammoth first innings total.

Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane (R) and Afghanistan skipper Asghar Stanikzai.

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"We are lucky that some of our best players are getting a chance to live in India and represent our nation", said an official with the Afghan Cricket Board.

While it did not result in Australia winning the Test, the fact that the ball could take turn is good news for Afghanistan. "You see the batsmen, bowlers are all in good form".

They have also been part of four Twenty20 World Cups.

"But no amount of war stopped me from sneaking out to play cricket with my brothers".

"They attacked us in the morning, especially the spinners, and were successful in scoring quickly", Ahmadzai said. It's like any other test match for us. Afghanistan will be even more determined as they are the most risky among the bunch.

Dhawan looked in sublime touch right from the start, punishing the pace duo of Yamin Ahmadzai and Wafadar for glorious boundaries before sending his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Rashid Khan to the cleaners.

How well Shahzad, Mohammed Nabi negotiate Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will have a direct impact on the kind of fight Afghanistan will be able to put on.