Wednesday, June 3, 2020 | ePaper

Rohit's ton lights up India's day before rain plays spoilsport

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India's Rohit Sharma (left) raises his bat to celebrate scoring a century during first day of the third and last cricket Test match between India and South Africa in Ranchi, India on Saturday.



Rohit Sharma continued to ace the test as opener when he smashed yet another century and remained unbeaten at stumps in a rain affected first day in the third and final Test against South Africa in Ranchi. India lead the three-match series 2-0 and Virat Kohli will be looking to complete a whitewash in his predecessor, MS Dhoni's backyard.
For India, Shahbaz Nadeem made his debut as South Africa handed Heinrich Klassen and George Linde their first caps too. Unfortunately, bad light and heavy rain forced the umpires into calling stumps half an hour into the final session with India on 224/3 with Rohit (117*) and Ajinkya Rahane (83*) at the crease.
South African captain Faf du Plessis took Temba Bavuma along with him as toss proxy, but his luck did not change as Virat Kohli won the toss and decided to bat first once again. But seeing the early exploits of Kagiso Rabada & Anrich Nortje initially, du Plessis would have kept his disappointment of losing another toss, aside.
Rabada set the tone for the day as Mayank Agarwal (10) was caught in the slips, edging one outside the off stump.
Four overs later, Rabada trapped Cheteshwar Pujara (0) hitting him on the pads, and with DRS's help the Proteas had their second breakthrough. India were 16/2 in the ninth over and when Virat Kohli walked out to the middle on the back off an unbeaten 254 in the last Test.
Just as he was starting to get a move on Nortje beat Kohli for pace, and another DRS decision went the Proteas' way as the pacer became only the fourth bowler to have the Indian captain as their first Test wicket.
Ajinkya Rahane joined Rohit Sharma in the middle, much earlier than the Indian team would have liked, but the duo watchfully played out the final hour of the first session as India, rocked by some top quality fast bowling, were at 71/3.
India could have been in more trouble going into the break if Zubayr Hamza had held onto a sharp chance from Rohit off George Linde's bowling. Rohit would eventually go on to make the life count, and how.
After the break, the surface got easier to bat on and Rohit moved through the gears as Rahane provided ample support from the other end. Rohit took a special liking to Dane Piedt in the afternoon session as he took him to the cleaners, even bringing up his century with a majestic hit over extra cover.
The hit was also his 17th maximum of the series, the highest number of sixes ever in one series in the history of Test cricket. The stylish right-hander though was surely not going to stop there if he had his way. At the other end, Rahane was slowly beginning to crank it up with beautiful drives and flicks of his own too.
Like Rohit, Rahane also enjoyed facing Piedt and brought out some stunning hits through the off-side to make a statement of sorts as well. At one point, before tea the two Mumbaikars were going toe to toe and India were scoring at a rather brisk pace, what possibly helped set them in motion was the dark clouds that were starting to circle the stadium.
Rahane and Rohit, by the time tea came around had added 134 runs in just 29 overs and were looking hungry for more.
Not much changed after the tea interval, as the duo mixed caution with aggression and added 19 runs in six overs before bad light and bad weather forced the players back into the pavilion.

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