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Devastating Dhawan powers India to 283-0 at the close of Day 3 in Mohali

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Once regarded as the fastest wicket in India, the PCA Stadium in Mohali was regarded as the one venue in India where the seamers would get some joy and an even contest between bat and ball could be expected. Those days appear long gone as a dream third day for batting witnessed in excess of 400 runs being scored for the loss of just 3 wickets. The morning session belonged to Australia, as the visitors notched up a morale boosting 408 runs in their first innings with Mitchell Starc (99) and Steve Smith (92) producing some excellent counter attacking cricket to give Australia a lifeline in the series. That ray of hope was extinguished in some style by debutant Shikhar Dhawan, as he scored an incredible unbeaten 185 from just 168 balls with the help of 33 boundaries and 2 sixes to power India to a position of strength at 283-0. Dhawan's partner in crime Murali Vijay scored a very respectable 83 but was overshadowed by his new teammate, who rewrote the record books with some genuine class, albeit on a docile pitch.

Australia made a positive start on the third morning of the Mohali Test with the overnight batsmen Steve Smith and Mitchell Starc continuing from where they left off last evening, taking Australia comfortably past 300. The duo were looking increasingly comfortable out in the middle, and India had their work cut out for them to break this crucial 8th wicket stand which was threatening to make it hard for them to force a result from this game.

Pragyan Ojha finally broke the partnership well after an hour had been played, ending the stand for 97 having Steve Smith stumped for 92. The young Australian was unfortunate to miss out on what would have been a well deserved century, having been suckered just out of his crease by having to reach for the ball.

At the other end, Starc was enjoying his time in the Mohali sun and coasted to his 50 from 86 balls. The left-hander showed that he was certainly no mug with the bat and looked at complete ease batting on in the company of Nathan Lyon. The runs continued to flow steadily for the Australians, and Starc was on the cusp of something special as three figures beckoned for the youngster for the first time in his career. However, much to the disappointment of the Aussie team that had gathered in the balcony in Mohali in anticipation, and to Starc himself, he nicked an away going delivery from Ishant Sharma through to Dhoni and was dismissed for 99. A gutted Starc dragged himself off the field while India celebrated.

India wrapped up Australia's innings for 408 with Ashwin getting the final wicket, that of Xavier Doherty, leg before for 5. The Indian bowlers had shared the wickets between them with Jadeja and Sharma picking up 3 each. Dhoni had done a stellar job behind the stumps and was rewarded with 5 victims.

India had 1 over to bat before lunch, and Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan came out to face the music. Starc had a go at Vijay, who safely negotiated the over as India went into lunch at 3-0.

The post lunch session saw a strong statement made by India's rookie openers, looking to fill the massive boots of Delhi stalwarts Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Shikhar Dhawan took on the Australian bowlers and produced arguably the most memorable innings by an Indian on debut since Saurav Ganguly's ton in England nearly two decades ago.

Dhawan raced to his half-century off just 50 balls, and there was no stopping the stylish left-hander as he launched an all out attack with the kind of disdain of a man who had been kept waiting for way too long to take his bow on the big stage.

With 21 swift hits to the fence, Dhawan reached three figures off just 85 balls, getting to his landmark in one session alone. By tea on Day 3, India had already reached 156 in just 29 overs with Murali Vijay enjoying the entertainment from the other end of the pitch with 42 to his name.

Vijay's half century was brought up shorty after tea and India's 200 followed in the 41st over. The landmarks kept coming as Dhawan's 150 followed off 131 balls with the left-hander opening his shoulders a bit more after getting to his ton and taking the aerial route as well on occasions.

There was to be no respite for Australia as India ended the day in the ascendancy with the openers notching up an unbeaten 283 run stand in just 58 overs. Dhawan showed the maturity to bat out the day instead of looking for a quick double hundred, eventually ending it on 185. Murali Vijay showed commendable temperament to keep playing his game, and finished the day with 83 to his name. He will look to come back tomorrow and join his new opening partner in three figures.

Australia still lead by 125 runs, but it is advantage India in this test match at present. Should the hosts continue to score at a healthy rate in excess of 4 an over tomorrow, they can take a lead of close to 200 and have another go at their visitors.

The series though looks done and dusted, and unless Australia's bowlers can spring a surprise on India tomorrow, it looks rather unlikely that India will go on to lose this game.

Teams:

India: S Dhawan, M Vijay, C Pujara, S Tendulkar, V Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, B Kumar, P Ojha, I Sharma

Australia: D Warner, E Cowan, P Hughes, M Clarke, M Henriques, B Haddin, S Smith, M Starc, P Siddle, X Doherty, N Lyon

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 1st Innings 408 all out (141.5 overs)

S Smith 92 (185) R Jadeja 3-77

M Starc 99 (144) I Sharma 3-72

India 1st Innings 283-0 (58 overs)

S Dhawan 185* (168)

M Vijay 83* (181)