India vs South Africa 2019, 3rd Test, Day 1: Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane help India stage recovery on rain-curtailed day
The scoreline at stumps - 224/3 - fails to paint a clear picture of just how the first day of the third Test between India and South Africa panned out. India were wobbling at 39/3 in the morning session before Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane embarked on a rescue operation, stitching an unbroken 185-run partnership to wrestle back the advantage in favor of the hosts.
India's decision to bat first after winning the toss backfired as the first hour of play was dominated heavily by the visitors. Led by Kagiso Rabada, the South African pace battery smelt blood right from the outset.
Steaming in with ferocious intensity, Rabada got the new ball to talk. The hostile quick terminated Mayank Agarwal's innings, forcing him to edge one to Dean Elgar at third slip. Prodding forward with minimal conviction, Cheteshwar Pujara was then trapped in front of the stumps by Rabada's nip-backer for zero.
Virat Kohli then fell prey to a cunning plan from rookie Anrich Nortje. Methodically pitching a few deliveries in the 'corridor of uncertainty', Nortje lured the Indian captain into false strokes, with the mid-wicket region deliberately left vacant to entice a reckless whip. Kohli ultimately had his fate sealed when he was trapped while shuffling across the stumps, leaving India quivering at 39/3.
Rahane then joined forces with Rohit to weather the storm. Cautiously negating the potent bowling attack, the Mumbaikars saw India through to lunch without any further damage.
Runs came thick and fast in the post-lunch session. Quick to jump on errors in length, the duo notched up 76 runs before the first drinks break. While the tweakers were maneuvered dexterously, looseners from the pacers were met with subtle glances and imperious pulls. Anchoring the counter-attack, Rahane brought up his half-century off 70 balls with a firm punch down the ground.
Dane Piedt then allowed Rohit to reach his century with a gentle off-spinner which was smacked for a maximum over long-on. Soon after, a relentless drizzle coupled with bad light forced the umpires to call stumps, with India by far the happier side after the first day.
Brief Scores: India 224/3 (Rohit Sharma 117*, Ajinkya Rahane 83*; Kagiso Rabada 2-54)