Mayank Agarwal converted his maiden Test ton into a double century, putting India in a strong position at tea on day two of the series-opener against South Africa, on Thursday.
Agarwal, who resumed on 138 after lunch, showed remarkable concentration and endurance to bat the majority of the afternoon session which was extended by 30 minutes to make up for overs lost due to rain on day one.
At tea, India were 450 for five with Agarwal getting out towards the end of the session when he flicked one from Dean Elgar towards deep mid-wicket where a diving Dane Piedt took the catch.
Agarwal’s phenomenal 215 off 371 balls included 23 fours and six maximums.
India made 126 runs in the session at the loss of four wickets.
South Africa struck through pacer Vernon Philander’s first ball after lunch, raising hopes of a South African fightback. Cheteshwar Pujara (6) was the man dismissed, bowled off a Philander beauty that moved away just enough to rattle his off-stump.
Captain Virat Kohli (20) joined Agarwal in the middle and looked in sublime touch during his short stay. He was disappointed to get out after getting set. A regulation ball stopped on Kohli who ended up offering a simple return catch to debutant Senuran Muthuswamy.
The focus of the Indian batsmen in the session was on increasing the scoring rate and score as much as possible before the already struggling South Africa come out to bat.
Ajinkya Rahane (15) gave Keshav Maharaj his second wicket.
Rohit, who hit 23 fours and half a dozen sixes, was eventually dismissed in the 83rd over. At lunch, India were 324 for one in 88 overs with the host scoring 122 runs in the session at 4.28 runs per over.
Rohit and Agarwal, who resumed their innings at 115 and 84 respectively with India at 202 for no loss, did not take long to register India’s highest opening stand against South Africa, surpassing the 218 made by Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag at Kanpur in 2004.
A little later, when the duo crossed the 268-run mark, their stand became the highest against the Proteas for any wicket, surpassing Rahul Dravid and Sehwag’s effort in 2007-08.
Like on day one, Philander created some discomfort for the batsmen in the opening hour but apart from that, it was smooth sailing for the home team. Rohit was dropped on 125 off Philander when keeper Quinton de Kock, who was standing up to the stumps, fumbled to take a sharp catch.
Two balls from Philander kept low, taking both Rohit and Agarwal by surprise but after that they toyed with the opposition attack. None of South Africa’s three spinners were impressive though Keshav Maharaj did have Rohit stumped towards the end of the session.
Offie Piedt was expensive again.
After reaching three figures with a single, Agarwal stepped up the offensive. He dispatched Piedt for a massive six over deep midwicket before reverse sweeping him for a four in the same over.
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