Dhawan and only for India
Australia did not do its homework on Shikhar Dhawan.
With the fastest century from a batsman on debut since the balls-faced category was recorded in cricket scorebooks, India's swashbuckling new opener gave Michael Clarke's team yet another harsh lesson in their subcontinental tour from hell.
Australia's total of 408 - boosted by Mitchell Starc's galvanising but gut-wrenching 99 - had looked respectable at first glance on Saturday.
Plenty to smile about: It's all sweetness and pina coladas for Indian fans, as debutant Shikhar Dhawan blazes his way to 185 runs off 168 balls. We can't show you the action because of a dispute with the BCCI. Photo: Paul Rovere
Dhawan's extraordinary exhibition of stroke-making on day three of the third Test made it seem very average in a hurry.
The 27-year-old's 85-ball century in his first Test was an awe-inspiring and gag-inducing treat. Dhawan-ism, the biggest thing since cyclone Tracy, you get the picture.
The wordplay, however, did not do justice to the sheer quality and the audaciousness of this innings. Dhawan barely lofted a ball in the air but struck a remarkable 21 fours to all corners en route to three figures. With 84 per cent of his runs to that point, he was not required to move.
It was great viewing to all but Australia. And he was anything but content with a hundred. By stumps Dhawan (185 not out from 165 balls) had 33 boundaries and two sixes to his name and with partner Murali Vijay (83 not out) had piloted India to 0-283, only 125 behind the visitors.
The washout on day one might be the only thing that can save Clarke's hapless team from falling 3-0 down in the series. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy might as well be handed over now.
Australia's attack, depleted by its suspension of leading fast bowler James Pattinson along with three others for a breach of team discipline, was thoroughly without answers to the festival of fours.
By the time Steve Smith came on with his full tosses and half-trackers in the afternoon it was stop-the-fight time.
Replacement gloveman Brad Haddin could have been excused for wanting to get straight back on a plane to Sydney and rejoin resurgent NSW. This was not what he signed up for.
Haddin got a front-row seat, at least, as Dhawan lived up to the reputation of the man he replaced here, Virender Sehwag. India has had a double centurion in both of the previous two matches in this series.
Barring something out of the ordinary, like Australia taking a wicket, there is about to be another.
If the innings of M.S. Dhoni and Cheteshwar Pujara in Chennai and Hyderabad were something special, Dhawan's performance blew them away.
He had played five one-day internationals for the uninspiring average of 13 but has arrived on the international scene with a bang like few before. On 98, he even had the gumption to dance down the wicket to Peter Siddle.
Dhawan and Vijay added 153 together in the middle session and the pedal remained down thereafter. So repetitive were the boundaries that Australia's fieldsmen became as familiar with the rope as a hangman.
Starc's earlier efforts, by late afternoon at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, were rendered almost irrelevant but did not deserve to be.
The Australians had paused and begun to clap as they reached the gate on their way off the ground at lunch.
Twenty minutes earlier the tall left-arm fast bowler was on the brink of becoming the first Australian tailender, batting at No.9 or lower, to reach three figures in a Test for 66 years and only the fifth ever.
Cruelly, he instead became the 22nd Australian to be dismissed for 99.
Shane Warne knows how he feels; so do Greg Blewett and Simon Katich, who both stumbled one short of a hundred twice. Like Warne, there is a corner of the lower-order batsman's brain that knows they may not get the chance again.
The returning Smith (92) also fell just short of his own first Test ton with an impressive knock in his first appearance at this level in more than two years. The gloss of their contributions, however, was long gone by stumps.
Australia stood down four players for off-field indiscretions after Hyderabad. How many more can it leave out for shortcomings on it?
Australia (1st Innings - overnight 7-273)
E COWAN c Kohli b Ashwin 86
D WARNER c Dhoni b Jadeja 71
M CLARKE st Dhoni b Jadeja 0
P HUGHES c Dhoni b Ojha 2
S SMITH st Dhoni b Ojha 92
B HADDIN b Sharma 21
M HENRIQUES b Sharma 0
P SIDDLE lbw b Jadeja 0
M STARC c Dhoni b Sharma 99
N LYON not out 9
X DOHERTY lbw b Ashwin 5
Sundries (8b, 12lb, 3nb) 23
Fall of wickets: 139 (Warner), 139 (Clarke), 151 (Hughes), 198 (Cowan), 244 (Haddin), 244 (Henriques), 251 (Siddle), 348 (Smith), 399 (Starc), 408 (Doherty)
Bowling: B Kumar 9-0-44-0 (2nb), I Sharma 30-8-72-3 (1nb), R Ashwin 43.5-9-97-2, P Ojha 28-5-98-2, R Jadeja 31-7-77-3
India (1st Innings)
M VIJAY not out 83
S DHAWAN not out 185
Sundries (5b, 9lb, 1nb) 15
Total (no loss - close) 283
Bowling: M Starc 11-1-46-0, P Siddle 12-3-35-0 (1nb), M Henriques 7-0-38-0, N Lyon 15-3-69-0, X Doherty 10-2-57-0, S Smith 3-0-24-0