Chennai: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni struck his maiden double century to lift India to a mammoth 515 for 8 in their first innings at the end of the third day's play in the first cricket Test against Australia at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here yesterday.
Dhoni remained unbeaten on 206 and had Bhuvneshwar Kumar (16 not out) for company as India ended the day with an impressive lead of 135 runs.
Dhoni and Kumar added 109 runs for the unfinished ninth-wicket stand that took India to a dominating position after they were reduced to 406 for 8. It was a quick 243-ball knock by Dhoni and was studded with 22 fours and massive five sixes. Though batting great Sachin Tendulkar failed to break his two-year wait for a Test century, falling for 81 in the morning, what followed next was pure carnage by Dhoni and heir to his captaincy Virat Kohli, who made a valuable 107.
But it was Dhoni's knock that stood out as he almost single-handedly blunted the Australian bowling attack. Dhoni walked in after India had scored just 14 runs after an hour's play and had lost Tendulkar, who was bowled by off-spinner Nathan Lyon (3/182). Dhoni and Kohli then launched a counter-attack for their 128-run fifth-wicket stand but the scoring slowed down after Kohli was dismissed by Lyon. Kohli in his attempt to get aggressive was caught by Starc off the bowling of Lyon.
Ravindra Jadeja (16), Ravichandran Ashwin (3) and Harbhajan Singh (11) all departed quickly and Dhoni risked running out of partners. Kumar, however, proved an able ally for Dhoni. The debutant managed just 16 runs but made sure that his captain got the maximum amount of strike. Dhoni was in complete control of his brilliant innings and simply toyed with the Australian bowlers. En route to his 206, Dhoni also crossed a few milestones, crossing the 4000-run mark in Tests. It was also the second highest individual score as an Indian captain and also the highest Test score by an Indian wicketkeeper. Dhoni is now just 28 runs short of the highest score by a wicketkeeper in the history of cricket, 232 by Zimbabwean Andy Flower.
Meanwhile, cricketers world over showered praise on India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for smashing a double-ton. Former England captain Michael Vaughn tweeted: "The coolest man in world cricket MS Dhoni delivers when it most matters... incredible innings against the Aussies..."
Legendary spinner Shane Warne was also impressed by Dhoni's knock. "WOW, M S Dhoni is going off here in Chennai, amazing batting," tweeted Warne, who is part of the commentary team here.
Warne's contemporary Glenn McGrath, who is heading the MRF Pace Foundation here, posted: "Great innings by MS Dhoni 206*. India in a strong position against the Aussies."
Former West Indies batsman Darren Ganga said: "Magnificent accomplishment from Dhoni. Proven the critics wrong. Clearly one of India's finest captains and wicket keeper-batsmen."
Brilliant counter attack innings by one of India's finest captains and wicket keeper-batsmen." Praise also came from Dhoni's teammates.
"What an innings @msdhoni truly inspirational stuff. One of the best innings i have seen," tweeted Ajinkya Rahane.