Rohit Sharma's record double keeps India in command
Rohit Sharma became the only man to score centuries in both innings in his first Test as an opener to keep India on top against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
Sharma made 127 to go with his 176 in the first innings as India declared at 323/4‚ setting South Africa 395 to win.
The visitors reached 11/1 in the nine overs they faced before bad light ended play four overs early — leaving themselves to score another 384 on the last day‚ an unlikely prospect.
Ravindra Jadeja struck a key blow for India in the sixth over before stumps when he had Dean Elgar leg-before for two.
With that Elgar‚ who held South Africa’s first innings together with his sturdy 160‚ passed the baton to Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn‚ who will resume on Sunday on three and five.
The 13 sixes Sharma hit across both innings is a record for men’s Test cricket‚ and was indicative of the home side’s aggressive approach.
Bad light | Stumps— Cricket South Africa (@OfficialCSA) October 5, 2019
The umpires come together for a brief discussion. The outcome is that players will be going off and that wraps up day 4.
Proteas go to the pavilion on 11-1 still needing another 384 runs to win.
Markram & de Bruyn will resume on day 5.#ProteaFire #INDvSA pic.twitter.com/VTxa9dobXF
The Indians hammered 14 sixes and 31 fours on Saturday‚ which accounts for 64.4% of their total.
India’s 27 sixes in the match is the most hit in a single Test‚ and South Africa’s spinners bore the brunt of the assault.
Keshav Maharaj‚ who bowled a South African record 55 overs in the first innings and took 3/189‚ conceded 129 runs in his 29 overs for the comparatively scant reward of the wickets of the Mayank Agarwal and Sharma.
Dane Piedt took 1/107 in the first innings and clocked up another unwanted century going wicketless for 102.
Debutant Senuran Muthusamy kept South Africa’s batting flame burning after they resumed on 385/8.
India needed an hour to take the last two wickets‚ with Muthusamy using up 106 balls for his unbeaten 33.
Ravichandran Ashwin‚ playing his first match for India in any format since December last year‚ claimed the last two wickets to finish with 7/145.
The South Africans would have been satisfied with reducing the deficit to a marginal 71‚ and with Maharaj having first-innings centurion Agarwal caught at first slip for seven with only 21 scored.
But Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara re-established India’s advantage with a stand that grew to 169 and endured until three overs after tea‚ when Vernon Philander trapped Pujara in front for 81.
Sharma was smartly stumped by Quinton de Kock six overs later‚ but all that achieved was to send the Indians into overdrive in their pursuit of a big target.
Eighty-four runs flowed in the 10.1 overs bowled after Sharma’s dismissal‚ with Jadeja hitting 40 off 32‚ Virat Kohli 31 not out off 25‚ and Ajinkya Rahane an unbeaten 27 off 17.