Shikhar Dhawan: Facing Rashid in SRH nets gave an advantage

Shikhar Dhawan put Rashid Khan under pressure in the morning session, when he clearly picked his variations and played quality shots to score quickly off his bowling.

Shikhar Dhawan was at his destructive best in the morning session, taking India past 150 and scoring his seventh Test century.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Rashid Khan won’t forget the Thursday morning for long. It is not just because he and his team walked into the Test arena for the first time, but it is for the way Shikhar Dhawan toyed with him.

The batting ace, who became the only Indian batsman to score a Test century before lunch on the first day of a Test, went hammer and tongs at the Afghan spin sensation. And, after the day’s play, Dhawan admitted that having played Rashid — who is his team-mate at the Sunrisers Hyderabad for two years — at the nets did give him the advantage.

Read: India reduced to 347/6 after Vijay, Dhawan tons

“I went with the flow. The advantage that I had was that I have faced him in the nets for two years because we play for the same team in the IPL. I was used to his bowling and that helped me,” Dhawan said.

The Indian opener also admitted that he enjoyed his ‘battle’ against Rashid. “I enjoyed my battle with him today, and of course I dominated it. But he is a great bowler, and on his day, he can take some serious wickets,” Dhawan said.

After looking hapless in the first session, Afghanistan bounced back in the final session to pick up five wickets. And Dhawan admitted that with Rashid bowling stump to stump in the end, things turned Afghanistan’s way. “They came back very well in the last session and it was their first game, so I am sure they will learn a lot of things. They have a long road ahead and Rashid is a top-class bowler,” he said.

But what helped him play such a dashing knock?

Dhawan admitted that he was able to carry forward the good form of IPL. “I have always played with a positive mindset,” he said, adding that he had no clue about the record while batting in the middle.

“It feels great. I did not know about such a thing. When I returned back to the pavilion, I saw it on television,” Dhawan said.

From a comfortable position, India slipped — losing five wickets in the final session. Was it that the middle-order failed to execute the plans?

“Everyone has his own style of play. My character is different than Vijay’s. Everyone has their own of playing and has individual plan. I play to my strength,” Dhawan said.

Having given a head start to India’s batting, Dhawan would be hoping to end the contest on a positive note.