Shikhar Dhawan strikes brilliant unbeaten 104, India races to 158/0 at lunch

Shikhar Dhawan strikes brilliant unbeaten 104, India races to 158/0 at lunch

In overcast conditions at Bengaluru's M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Dhawan made a confident start with a couple of glorious cover drives after stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane won the toss and chose to bat.

India are without regular captain Virat Kohli, who initially opted to play for the English county championship side Surrey in June but that did not materialise as he hurt his neck while fielding during the IPL.

There is a distinct advantage of having Rashid Khan in the team as Afghanistan coach Phil Simmons feels all the spotlight which the star spinner has garnered has allowed his lesser-known colleagues to prepare peacefully for the historic one-off Test against India.

In reality, the Indians have been more or less comfortable against the slower bowlers in the previous season barring the first Test against Australia in Pune a year ago. Most of our matches are live on social media so they are coming through.

"It's a good thing for the team".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said it's a matter of great pride that Afghanistan has chosen to play its maiden Test match against India, which stands shoulder-to-shoulder in its cricketing journey.

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India will look at doing their bit like they do in any other Test against stronger opponents - focusing on winning the Test. Afghanistan, or England, this Indian team is ready to take on.

A spark lit in the bleak environs of refugee camps in Pakistan has in spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman in particular found the torch-bearers who have carried Afghanistan swiftly to a format that is still regarded as the pinnacle of cricket.

The smiles were soon wiped off their faces, though, as India opener Shikhar Dhawan took advantage of some palpable nerves from the Afghan bowlers to blast a stunning hundred before lunch.

As government officials here said, India has been associated with the development of cricket in Afghanistan since 2001 when Afghanistan joined ICC. "He has not played Test cricket, but his professionalism will help him to adjust".

He continued in his role as leader of the pace attack and was an important part of the side led by MS Dhoni that eventually lifted the inagural edition of the World T20 in South Africa. I only hope that they do have the opportunity to play a lot of Test cricket like they do in T20s, where they not only have the ability to compete but also win a tournament. We have bowlers of similar ilk and they have been bowling at the batsmen.

Afghanistan (likely XI): Javed Ahmadi, Mohammad Shahzad, Rahmat Shah, Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Nabi, Afzar Zazai (wk), Rashid Khan, Yamin Ahmadzai, Zahir Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Wafadar.