India vs South Africa 2019, 1st Test, Day 1: Rohit Sharma experiment proves successful as hosts exert dominance
Earlier in the day, Faf du Plessis was dealt a blow as the spin of the coin went against him, with India opting to bat first on a placid surface. Pacemen Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander steamed in right from the outset to test the opening pair with disciplined swing bowling.
Barring a few nervous jitters early on, the Indian duo did well to negotiate the opening spell from the quicks. Rohit, in particular, was decisive with his footwork against the new ball. Happy to leave tempters outside the off-stump, he focused on defending balls right under his nose while also charging down the track on occasion to negate lateral movement off the surface.
Playing and missing initially against some tremendous fast bowling, Rohit soon discovered his groove and began to unleash his wide repertoire of strokes.
The introduction of spin was cherished by the Indian batsmen who helped themselves to a couple of sweetly-timed maximums. The pair rotated strike effectively against the spinners who were unable to extract any sort of purchase from the deck.
Minutes before the lunch interval, Rohit narrowly evaded the short fine leg fielder off a miscued paddle to bring up his half-century with a boundary.
With two set batsmen dominating at the crease, South Africa's much-vaunted bowling unit began to feel the pressure. Dane Piedt facilitated Rohit's progression into the nineties as the Indian batsman frequently shimmied down the pitch to deposit the off-spinner into the stands.
Punching left-arm tweaker Senuran Muthusamy to extra cover, Rohit notched up his fourth Test century, off 154 deliveries. At the other end, Mayank Agarwal elegantly stroked his way to a solid 84*.
The exhausted South Africans were provided much-needed respite soon after by an incessant downpour which forced a stoppage in play. Persistent rain meant stumps were drawn with India in a commanding position at 202 for no loss.
Brief Scores: India 202/0 (Rohit Sharma 115*, Mayank Agarwal 84*) vs South Africa.