Rohit Sharma, who was given a lifeline in the Test circuit after being sent to open the innings, made full use of his opportunities as he remained unbeaten on 115 on Day 1 of the first Test between India and South Africa at Vizag.
After India won the toss and opted to bat first, the Indian openers, Rohit and Mayank Agarwal, hung in there as Kagiso Rabada was his lethal self with the new ball early on. The seamer got a few balls to shape away and he cranked up the pace as well, which forced Agarwal to nick one to the gap in the slip cordon. Rohit, on the other hand, was trying to navigate through Vernon Philander’s nagging lengths by stepping out of the crease only to see keeper Quinton de Kock come up close to the stumps. However, despite the initial test, both players hung in there and remained unbeaten after the day’s play.
After the new ball bowlers were taken off the attack, the spinners failed to find any help from the track and soon, the Indian openers broke the shackles with a couple of lusty blows to the fence. Rohit, in particular, was impressive in his footwork against spin, and he got to his fifty with a top-edge sweep that went past the man at backward square leg.
The second session was the best for batting, and with two well-set batsmen at the crease, the Proteas had their task cut out. Both Rohit and Agarwal matched each other shot-for-shot, as they sent seven sixes sailing over the ropes after lunch. Dane Piedt, in particular, was punished as Rohit sent him for two successive sixes that helped him move into the nineties.
His fourth Test ton and his first as opener came when he punched a delivery on his backfoot, and as Virat Kohli, in the dressing room, stood up to applaud, it was certain that, at least temporarily, Rohit had silenced critics who were doubting his credentials in the longest format. The day’s play came to a premature halt as bad light forced early tea to be taken. Rain did not allow any further action as only 59.1 overs were possible on the day.
Brief Scores: India 202/0 (Rohit Sharma 115*, Mayank Agarwal 84*) vs South Africa.