India vs South Africa 1st Test: Mayank Agarwal cracks 215 before spinners tilt scales in India's favour

The Times of India

The Times of India

Author 2019-10-04 10:37:00

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Highlights

  • At 39/3 and 463 runs in arrears, South Africa were left facing an uphill task at stumps on Day 2.
  • Rohit and Agarwal ground the SA attack to dust with a 317-run opening wicket partnership.
  • Ashwin took little time to breach the defence of Aiden Markram.
VISAKHAPATNAM: Well begun is half the job done, they say, and by continuing the good work of the first day, Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma have put India on top in the first Test.

At 39/3 and 463 runs in arrears, South Africa were left facing an uphill task at stumps on Day Two. Rohit and Agarwal resumed at 202 without loss and ground the attack to dust with a 317-run opening wicket partnership that dominated proceedings in the morning session.

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The listless South African attack had no respite till Rohit fell a little before lunch - taken at 324/1 - for 176 (244b; 23x4, 6x6). But if the visiting side harboured hopes of better fortune, it was dashed by Agarwal, who took it upon himself to consolidate the gains during a 329-minute opening stand with an authoritative maiden Test century.

Unlike his opening partner, who was reprieved early in the day as Quinton de Kock failed to pouch the edge while standing up to Vernon Philander, the 28-year-old Karnataka opener was a picture of confidence during his 371-ball stint.

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Runs flowed from his willow with the assurance of a calm mind at work, picking gaps - and there were many - with ease on way to a glorious 215 (23x4, 6x6). The sure-footedness was exemplary and reflected the confidence of a player with a wealth of runs under his belt in domestic cricket.

Playing in only his fifth Test match since he was flown out to join the Indian squad ahead of the Boxing Day Test match against Australia in Melbourne, where he did his reputation a world of good with 76 and 42 on debut, the opener's situational awareness shone like a beacon.

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The second new ball, taken after 83 overs, also failed to make an impression on Agarwal, who went from strength to strength after reaching the three-figure milestone in 204 deliveries. He had a ready answer for anything restrictive posed by the South Africans, using the reverse sweep to good effect.

Just like there were no yips as he cruised into his 90s and onwards to his century, the double was smooth as they come with Ajinkya Rahane for company. Cheteshwar Pujara was cleaned up first ball on resumption after lunch and Kohli gave debutant Senuran Muthusamy much delight by becoming his first Test victim.

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Agarwal and Kohli added 55 runs for the third wicket, while the partnership between Agarwal and Rahane yielded 54 runs before the former holed out to Dane Piedt at midwicket in the only over bowled by Dean Elgar.

Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha prolonged the agony for the South Africans - left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj was their most successful bowler but he conceded far too many for his three wickets.

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The declaration gave the Indian attack 20 overs to have a crack at the South Africans with floodlights on after play was extended to make up for the time lost on Wednesday. The difference in attacks was clear and so was the accent on spin with offie R Ashwin taking little time to breach the defence of Aiden Markram.

The propensity to hit their way out of trouble was only indicative of their inability to cope with the attack as Theunis de Bruyne was smartly snaffled by Saha to give Ashwin his second wicket and night watchman Dane Piedt compounded their misery.

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