Ranchi, Rohit Sharma’s brilliant knock (117 not out off 164) and Ajinkya Rahane’s (83 not out off 135) helped India post 224 for three at stumps on Day 1 of third and final Test match against South Africa, here at the JSCA Stadium Sports Complex on Saturday. Both Rohit and Rahane were unbeaten at the crease as bad light, followed by rain, forced an early end to play on day one with only six overs possible in the final session.
Earlier in the day, India captain Virat Kohli won the toss for the third time in a row in the series and elected to bat. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem became the 296th player to represent India when he was handed a surprise Test debut after being included into the squad in place of an injured Kuldeep Yadav.
Meanwhile,in his bid to avoid a 3-0 whitewash, Proteas captain Du Plessis made as many as five changes to his team. However, India didn’t have a great start as they lost inform opener Mayank Agarwal in the fifth over for 10. Soon after, Cheteshwar Pujara, who came in next, was also trapped leg-before on duck.
Kagiso Rabada came up with a fiery opening spell in which he swung the ball both ways and removed both Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara. With the score reading 16/2, skipper Kohli walked in.
Virat Kohli too couldn’t carry his great form and was dismissed for 12 as early as the 1st hour of play on Saturday. Anrich Nortje, who trapped the India captain in front, became only the 4th bowler to get Kohli as his maiden wicket in Test cricket.
With reducing India to 39 for three, South Africa were looking to put pressure on hosts. But, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane joined hands and made sure India headed to lunch without any further wicktes. India were 71 for 3 at lunch.
After the lunch, Rahane and Rohit put the pressure back on South Africa by scoring at over 5 runs per over in the 1st hour of the 2nd session. In the meantime, Ajinkya Rahane got to his fastest Test fifty at home (in 70 balls). On the other hand, Rohit Sharma did not allow the South Africa spinners to settle down and played some wristy shots. The India opener took on off-spinner Dane Piedt, hitting him for 4 sixes in the 2nd session.
Rohit Sharma got to his 3rd hundred of the series with a majestic six against Dane Piedt. During the course of his hundred, Rohit also broke the record for most sixes hit in a Test series, going past Shimron Hetymer’s tally of 15 from series vs Bangladesh in 2018-19. Rohit, who hammered 14 boundaries and four sixes, became the first Indian opener since Sunil Gavaskar to score more than two centuries in a Test series. Gavaskar had achieved the feat way back in 1970.
Rohit and Ajinkya Rahane stitched an an unbeaten 185-run stand for the fourth wicket to stage the home team’s remarkable recovery. After the end of day’s play, South Africa would have been disappointed with the way they let things slip away after an impressive 1st session. On the other hand, India will be hoping to post another massive total and make sure they clinch their 1st-ever series whitewash of South Africa in Test. Brief Scores: India: 224/3 (Rohit Sharma 117*, Ajinkya Rahane 83*; Kagiso Rabada 2/54) vs South Africa