Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Rohit Sharma on the attack as India take charge of third Test against South Africa

Opener hits his third century of the series in record stand with Ajinkya Rahane

Rohit Sharma (R) celebrates his century with team-mate Ajinkya Rahane during the first day of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa. AFP
Rohit Sharma (R) celebrates his century with team-mate Ajinkya Rahane during the first day of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa. AFP

Opener Rohit Sharma hit his third century of the series to lead India's charge after they lost early wickets against South Africa on day one of the third Test.

Sharma, with 117, combined with Ajinkya Rahane, closing on 83, to put on an unbeaten 185-run stand after the hosts were wobbling at 39-3 following their decision to bat first in Ranchi.

India reached 224 for three when bad light stopped play in the final session. It then started to rain, bringing the day to an early close.

Sharma and Rahane ensured that India, who have already won the series with a 2-0 lead going into the final Test, denied the opposition bowlers any wickets after lunch.

"The duo batted really well. There was a bit of moisture early on. Wicket was doing something," said India's batting coach Vikram Rathour.

"They also bowled in better areas but recovery was phenomenal. Both of them batted really well and post-lunch the wicket eased a bit. We should catch this."

Kagiso Rabada got two early scalps and fellow paceman Anrich Nortje claimed his maiden Test wicket after he trapped India skipper Virat Kohli lbw for 12.

Sharma, who hit twin centuries in his debut game as an opening batsman at the start of the series, then steadied the innings along with Rahane, who completed his 21st Test fifty.

Sharma played conservatively for his half-century and then launched an attack with a barrage of sixes, reaching his sixth Test hundred with his fourth hit over the fence amid a racucous reception from the home crowd.

The duo from Mumbai recorded India's best fourth-wicket stand against South Africa after surpassing the 178 between Kohli and Rahane in the second Test in Pune.

In the morning session, India lost Mayank Agarwal, for 10, and Cheteshwar Pujara, for nought, to Rabada's lively spell of pace bowling and slipped to 16 for two.

Rabada nearly got his third when Sharma was judged lbw by the on-field umpire when the opener was on seven.

But Sharma successfully reviewed the decision as replays clearly showed the batsman got an inside edge off the bat before the ball hit the pads.

"Rabada is one of the better bowlers in the world at the moment. Today he showed why he's rated so high," Rathour said of the South African pace spearhead.

"As a batsman, you need to survive those spells, you need to get through those spells and Rohit did very well today again."

Kohli made a review of his own - a leg-before call - but tracking technology showed the ball would have grazed the leg stump.

After losing nine coin tosses in consecutive Asian Tests, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis brought on his deputy Temba Bavuma to end the poor run.

It was not enough and South Africa lost their 10th flip on the trot in Asian Tests.

Spinner Shahbaz Nadeem made his international debut for India while wicketkeeper Heinrich Klaasen and left-arm orthodox George Linde earned their maiden Test caps for the Proteas.

Updated: October 19, 2019 04:05 PM

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