If you are an ardent cricket fan, it is very likely that you remember Shikhar Dhawan's Test debut vividly. It was way back in March 2013. The match was the third Test in a four-game series which was played in Mohali. India were already leading the series and a win in this game would have brought them the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Shikhar, in his debut Test knock, played an incredible innings of 187, off just 174 balls, which was decorated with 33 fours and two sixes. The Australian bowlers got torn apart by him. But do you know that if the rules of the game had been followed without any leeway for the spirit of the game, Dhawan would have been out for a duck, without facing a ball?
Yes, that is exactly true. Before we tell exactly what happened, it's worthwhile to jog your memory and remind you of the background to the match and Dhawan's entry into Test arena.
Australia had lost the first two matches of the series and were in doldrums but India had a problem of their own. Their legendary opener Virender Sehwag was going through a rough patch of form. He hadn't registered a good score in a long time and many were of the opinion that it's time for the Indian team to move on and let the great batsman go.
The Indian selectors and team management took the bold decision and dropped Sehwag for this game. In came Shikhar Dhawan. The left-hander had been scoring prolifically in the domestic circuit but had been waiting for a long time to get into the Indian side. This was mainly due to the unwillingness of the Indian selection committee to drop senior players.
But things were changing and first Gautam Gambhir was left out of the squad for this series and now, Sehwag was gone also. Murali Vijay, the replacement for Gambhir, had scored a hundred in the second Test. Now, it was up to Dhawan to justify the faith of the selectors. He did it, and how!
The forgotten incident
But something very weird happened on the very first ball of India's first innings. Mitchell Starc ran in to bowl the first over and Murali Vijay was on strike. But as Starc got into his delivery stride to bowl the first delivery of the innings, the ball slipped out of his hand and went backwards towards the stumps.
The ball dislodged the bails at the non-striker's end. Interestingly, Dhawan, backing up, had ventured out of the crease and his bat was out of it when the bails came off. However, nobody was interested in that event and both Starc and Dhawan had a hearty smile on the face. When the replays were shown, Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that Dhawan was out without facing a ball, in a lighter vein.
But, as we know, Dhawan wasn't out and went on to play one of the greatest debut innings in Test cricket history. For all those people who glorify 'Mankading' and consider it a completely legitimate form of dismissal, for example, the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin, Sanjay Manjrekar, Murali Kartik, etc., should remember that incident before justifying the use of this tactic of getting people out.