Rohit Sharma smashes sublime double century as India dominate third Test against South Africa
Batsman reaches his maiden Test 200 after huge partnership with Rahane, with hosts in perfect position to clinch series whitewash
Rohit Sharma struck his maiden double Test century on Sunday to put India on top in the third and final match against South Africa.
Rohit made 212 and enjoyed a 267-run fourth wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane to devastate South Africa's bowling attack in Ranchi, as the hosts declared on 497-9.
The tourists were in trouble at nine for two, with Indian fast bowlers sending the opposition openers – Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar – back to the pavilion.
Zubayr Hamza and skipper Faf du Plessis were at the crease when bad light stopped play for the second successive day.
Pace spearhead Mohammed Shami struck with the second ball of the innings to get the left-handed Elgar caught behind for a duck.
Umesh Yadav joined forces to send De Kock packing for four after the batsman tried to fend off a bouncer that caught his glove and was safely taken by wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha.
The day belonged to Rohit, though, who reached 200 with a six off paceman Lungi Ngidi in the third over after lunch, and celebrated with a standing ovation from the raucous home crowd.
The in-form opener hit another six off Ngidi before falling to Rabada and returned to the pavilion with handshakes from the South African side.
"I [have] played only 30 Tests," said Sharma. "In terms of what was thrown at me, I would definitely say it was probably the most challenging one.
"Having played only three Tests as an opener, I know I have a long way to go. Of course I will take a lot of positives but I'm not reading too much into it."
Rohit pulled India out of early trouble in his marathon stand with Ajinkya, whose 115 included 17 boundaries and a six. It was the highest fourth-wicket partnership for India against the Proteas.
The senior batsman, playing his 30th Test, surpassed his previous best of 177 on his debut against the West Indies in 2013.
Rohit, who has three double centuries in his already illustrious one-day career, smashed the ball all around the park as he hit 28 fours and six sixes in his 255-ball stay.
After scoring two centuries in his first Test as an opener in Visakhapatnam, Rohit continued his remarkable run of form in this Test, becoming the third double-centurion in the series for India – after Mayank Agarwal's 215 at Visakhapatnam and Virat Kohli's unbeaten 254 in Pune – taking him to more than 500 runs for the series.
It also took his batting average at home up to 99.84, just above Don Bradman's 98.22.
Rahane, who started Sunday on 83, became Linde's first Test victim and the only Indian wicket to fall in the morning session. Rohit credited the vice captain for his team's rescue act.
"We have seen him for a long time. The way he has taken forward his Test career. He has always rescued the team from difficult circumstances," said Rohit.
"He has not done this in just one or two innings, but he's been doing it consistently. It shows how strong mentally he is and the hunger for runs. We have seen this not only in India and outside."
Linde got good turn with his left-arm spin in an extended afternoon session as he claimed Ravindra Jadeja for 51. He returned figures of 4-133 while paceman Kagiso Rabada took three wickets.
Yadav, coming in at No 9, played a useful cameo of 31, hitting five sixes during his 10-ball blitz. Skipper Kohli declared at the stroke of tea.
Earlier, Rabada had struck twice to reduce India to 39 for three after the hosts elected to bat first on Saturday, which also saw a large part of the final session lost to bad weather.
India have already taken a massive step towards sealing a whitewash after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Updated: October 20, 2019 05:11 PM