India opener Shikhar Dhawan thanked his stars after hitting a brutal knock of 190 against Sri Lanka on Day 1 of the first Test at Galle. The dashing Delhi batsman hit 190 off just 168 balls to power India to 399/3 at the end of day's play on Wednesday. Dhawan, who was only a late addition to the squad after Murali Vijay was injured, was in brilliant form as he punished Sri Lanka's bowlers on his way to a career-best score, improving on the 187 he made on debut against Australia. (Match Scorecard)
He shared a 253-run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara, who remained unbeaten on 144.
"My plans were to go to Melbourne and enjoy time with my family and do training and get fit for the ODI series (vs Sri Lanka). I was in Hong Kong with family and from there I flew back to India and joined the team. That was my plan but I think destiny had different plans for me. I am happy and thankful to God.
"I was happy to make a comeback into the Test team. Unfortunately Murali Vijay wasn't fit and I had a good run before this Test series and I just came with same mindset and same confidence, followed the same process in the nets and got myself ready for the Test series," Dhawan said at the press conference.
Dhawan was dropped on 31 at second slip by Asela Gunaratne and made the home team pay for the missed chance, hitting 31 fours. Gunaratne fractured his left thumb while attempting the catch and is expected to miss the rest of the test after being taken to Colombo for treatment.
Dhawan was finally out last over before tea, caught by Angelo Mathews off the bowling of seamer Nuwan Pradeep. The Indians lost just one more wicket in the day when captain Virat Kohli was dismissed by Pradeep in the second over after tea.
Dhawan said he was disappointed that he couldn't score a double hundred.
"I was disappointed that I got out on 190. I would have loved to score 200. But more than that I got out at a wrong time. The way I was playing I was confident that I will clear the mid-off fielder and I was almost hitting the boundaries every over. Unfortunately, it didn't go my way," he said.
Dhawan reached his fourth Test century by sweeping Dilruwan Perera for four. He accelerated after that, needing just 37 deliveries to move from 100 to 150. He was particularly harsh on Sri Lanka's spin attack, helping India maintain a run rate of 5.9 an over in the afternoon session.
"The special thing about this venue is that I am scoring runs here. Wicket was also good and there wasn't much of spin on the wicket. But it still had true bounce and wicket on it. I feel that I batted well too. There wasn't much turn and so I thought that I can attack the spinners.
When asked whether this was his best innings after the 187 he scored against Australia on his debut in Mohali, Dhawan said: "Yes actually. My debut innings was more like this one and also the knock against Bangladesh... I scored a quick hundred. But this was better than that," he said.
Dhawan also reflected on the time when he was out of the Test side. The southpaw said he always tries to stay happy, work hard on his game and leave the rest to destiny.
"I have thought about the time when I was not scoring runs, when I was going through that lean patch. I knew that if I don't score runs, I can get out of the team. I felt the pressure. When I got out of the side, it hurt me. But I moved on and played domestic cricket for Delhi team. I was enjoying myself. I don't like to be sad all the time, I like to be happy. I knew that if things have to come, they will come my way. I don't run around things. I just work on my game, my skills and fitness," he concluded.