Test cricket is all about endurance, perseverance, and the ability to go one above the strengths of your opponents over the five days of the Test. In this respect, many players have made their name in the longest format of the game with exemplary performances through the Test season for their respective countries.
When Shikhar Dhawan hit a century on Day 1 of India’s Test against Afghanistan in 2018, he not only became the first Indian to do so but also only the sixth batsman to achieve the rare distinction.
On the second anniversary of this meritorious occasion, let’s have a look at the occasions when batsmen managed to score a century in the first session of the red-ball game.
Victor Trumper vs England - Manchester (June 1902)
The Aussies have a knack for producing world-class cricketers on a regular basis, with four of the six batsmen on this list coming from Down Under. On the wet English pitches during Australia’s tour of England in 1902, Victor Trumper reigned supreme.
Leading the Ashes 1-0 going into the fourth Test of the series, skipper Joe Darling decided to bat first. The wet conditions completely played against the hosts, with Trumper taking full advantage of the slippery outfields. The opener managed to score 104 runs, including 14 boundaries, becoming the first batsman ever to score a century within the first session of a Test. By lunch, the Aussies were 173/1, eventually sealing the series with a three-run victory over England.
Charles Macartney vs England - Leeds (July 1926)
Another legend of the longer format of the game, Aussie batsman Charles Macartney is the second player on this list to have completed this feat, again, against arch-rivals England at their home ground of Headingley in Leeds.
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Nicknamed ‘The Governer-General’, Macartney was known for his brilliant stroke play. Facing wet pitches yet again, England captain Arthur Carr won the toss and decided to bowl first, with the hopes of toppling the Aussie brigade. When opener Warren Bardsley was dismissed with the first ball of the innings, everything seemed to go to plan, till Charles Macartney set up a 235-run partnership with Bill Woodfull, scoring 112 runs during Australia’s first session. The match went on to be a draw, with Macartney announcing his retirement from international cricket at the end of the series.
Don Bradman vs England, Leeds (July 1930)
England has often been a battleground for the Aussie batsmen, with many records being made as well as broken in the country. Sir Donald Bradman is one of the most decorated batsmen on this list and has personally been responsible for many of the Aussie Test records in England.
During the Australian tour of England in 1930, Don Bradman scored a memorable 974 runs, a record yet to be beaten. 334 of these runs were scored during the third Test of this Ashes series, with the legendary batsman hitting his century before lunch, on Day 1.
He eventually managed to score a record 309 runs on the first day, a feat which is yet to be replicated by any other batsman. England’s defensive tactics eventually earned them a draw but this series marked the beginning of Bradman’s legacy.
Majid Khan vs New Zealand - Karachi (October 1976)
When one has cousins such as Imran Khan and Javed Burki, and a father named Jahangir Khan (who played cricket for India during British rule), their pedigree in the game must be immense. Amidst these big names, Majid Khan managed to make a place for himself as the only Test cricketer to score a century on the first session of a Test held between 1931 and 2017.
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Facing off against visitors New Zealand in the third Test of the series, Majid Khan opened the batting alongside Sadiq Mohammad after skipper Mushtaq Mohammad won the toss and chose to bat first. Majid Khan pillaged the Kiwi bowling unit, which consisted of the likes of Richard Collinge, Lance Cairns and Richard Hadlee, scoring 108 runs by lunch of Day 1.
He was eventually dismissed for 112 runs with Pakistan drawing the Test, having sealed the series victory 2-0. Majid Khan also holds the distinction of scoring the first ODI century for Pakistan at Trent Bridge in 1974.
David Warner vs Pakistan - Sydney (January 2017)
It took 41 years to happen again, but in 2017, David Warner, the fourth and last Australian on this list, became only the fifth player to hit a century during the first session of a Test match. The event took place during the third match of the Pakistan tour, which was being played at the SCG.
After captain Steve Smith opted to bat first, openers David Warner and Matt Renshaw started the show for the Aussies. By the end of the first session on Day 1, Renshaw was not-out on 25, while his partner was celebrating his century at the other end.
Warner managed the feat in just 78 balls, finally losing his wicket for 113 runs off 95 balls, which included 17 boundaries, scoring at a strike rate of 118.94. Pakistan ended up losing the Test by 220 runs while Australia sealed the series 3-0.
Shikhar Dhawan vs Afghanistan - Bengaluru (June 2018)
India faced off against minnows Afghanistan in the latter’s first-ever Test appearance in Bengaluru and opener Shikhar Dhawan was a man on a mission. The southpaw went full-throttle against the able Afghan spinners after skipper Ajinkya Rahane opted to bat first.
Openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan were on fire for India, with both players scoring a century. However, it was the southpaw who created history with his 96-ball 107, which included 19 fours and three sixes, at a rate of 111.45.
Eventually, Dhawan lost his wicket after Mohammad Nabi caught him at second slip off Yamin Ahmadzai’s delivery. But the damage was done by then, with India registering an innings and 262-run victory, their biggest in red-ball cricket.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Manjunath Kiran