India vs South Africa 1st Test, Day 4: Rohit Sharma century gives India upper hand
Having decimated South Africa with a transcendent knock in the first innings, Rohit Sharma bludgeoned another magnificent hundred to solidify India's position on Day 4 of the first Test in Vizag. Later, Ravindra Jadeja drew first blood for the hosts in the evening session, removing Dean Elgar, before Virat Kohli declared after securing a hefty lead of 394.
Kicking off the proceedings, it didn't take long for Ravichandran Ashwin to prise out an iffy Keshav Maharaj, who toe-ended a hoick for Mayank Agrawal to comfortably settle beneath at long-on. Flexing his muscles for a couple of gorgeous boundaries, Kagiso Rabada missed a zipping slider from the veteran which pinged him just below the knee roll. Though the LBW shout was adjudged not-out on the field, a decisive review from the Indian skipper provided Ashwin with his seventh wicket, with replays suggesting the ball holding its line to crash into the leg stump.
Maharaj jolted India early in the second innings when Agarwal nicked a gripping delivery to Faf du Plessis at slip. Cheteshwar Pujara began in archetypal fashion, defending balls initially to get his eye in while Rohit kept scoring at a healthy pace right from the outset. Quick to capitalize on anything loose, Rohit wasted little time in putting the hapless attack to the sword as he notched up his half-century off just 72 deliveries.
Responding to a message from the dressing room, Pujara shifted gears mid-way through his knock after lumbering to 8 off 61 balls. While Rohit's colossal maximums frustrated the visitors, India's middle-order bulwark nonchalantly whipped the spinners to compensate for his dull start. Lacklustre fielding and indisciplined bowling didn't help South Africa either as the duo engineered a blossoming 169-run partnership.
Vernon Philander got one to straighten just enough catching Pujara plumb on the shuffle for a resolute 81. Flicking a juicy half-volley to mid-wicket, Rohit went on to become the first batsman to score a hundred in both innings of his debut match as an opener in Test cricket. The batting aficionado perished soon after accomplishing the landmark, jumping down the track only to be stumped after being deceived in the flight by Maharaj.
Next in, the Indian captain united forces with Jadeja to extend the decent lead, marauding the Proteas to every corner of the ground with flamboyant strokeplay. Throwing his bat for the team's cause, Jadeja was castled by Rabada but only after the dynamic all-rounder garnered 40 valuable runs. Ajinkya Rahane played an impactful cameo as India declared at 323/4 in the final session, leaving South Africa with an uphill task of chasing an improbable 395 for victory.
On a surface with the demons of variable turn and bounce, a wicket was just a matter of time as India decided to have a crack at the Proteas' batsmen under fading lights. It didn't take long either as Jadeja pinned Elgar dead in front with a regulation arm ball, leaving the Proteas at 11/1 on the cusp of defeat.
Brief Scores: India 502/7 dec. (Mayank Agarwal 215, Rohit Sharma 176) and 323/4 decl (Rohit Sharma 127, Cheteshwar Pujara 81) lead South Africa 431 (Dean Elgar 160, Quinton de Kock 111, Faf du Plessis 55; R Ashwin 7-145) and 11/1 by 384 runs.Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:40 IST