Shikhar Dhawan‘s debut is remembered for a sparkling onslaught on the visiting Australian team in 2013, a 187-run knock that kickstarted his Test career, but few would recall how a freak incident almost halted his charge even before it even began.
Before he even faced his first delivery in Test cricket during the Mohali Test against Australia, Dhawan almost found himself at the receiving end of a rather strange dismissal at the non-striker’s end. As his opening partner, Murali Vijay, got ready to face the first delivery, the ball slipped out of Mitchell Starc’s hand in his delivery stride and disturbed the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
By then, Dhawan had trudged out of his crease and was caught backing up too far. Since Starc was still in his delivery stride, the Australian team was well within their rights to appeal for a run-out, and given how far Dhawan had stepped out, could have resulted in a diamond duck for the batsman.
However, the Australian team wasn’t interested in an appeal, even though Michael Clarke, the opposition skipper, humorously signalled for a review.
What is debatable, though, is whether the umpire would have considered it as an intended attempt for a dismissal, since the slip out of Starc’s hand appeared accidental. At that time, the Law 42.15 of the MCC Laws of Cricket, “The bowler is permitted, before entering his delivery stride, to attempt to run out the non-striker. Whether the attempt is successful or not, the ball shall not count as one of the over.” In 2017, the law was updated to be 41.16, which puts the onus on staying in the crease on the non-striker.
Interestingly, just a year before that, Dhawan’s India teammate Ravichandran Ashwin had created controversy after dismissing Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Thirimanne with a ‘Mankad’. The mode of dismissal gained immense traction in 2019, when Ashwin adopted a similar method to send back Jos Buttler in the IPL.
Following the uproar over Ravi Ashwin's IPL 'Mankad', here's a look back at an incident from a 2012 ODI against Sri Lanka at the Gabba pic.twitter.com/IRR528s0ha
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) March 27, 2019
The initial hiccup aside, Dhawan enjoyed a fine debut innings, hitting 33 fours and two sixes in a 174-ball knock, which was the fastest Test century by a batsman on debut. While he missed the second innings due to injury, the 289-run opening stand with Vijay laid the platform for India’s six-wicket win and made him a favourite for the opening spot in the years to follow.