After Rohit Sharma dominated the South Africa bowlers on the opening day of the first Test against South Africa, it was Mayank Agarwal who ruled the proceedings on Day 2 in Visakhapatnam on Thursday. Resuming the innings on 84, the Indian opener added another 131 to his total helping the hosts pile up 502/7 on the board before skipper Virat Kohli declared the innings. The 28-year-old scored 215, which included 23 boundaries and six maximums before he was removed by Dean Elgar while trying to accelerate his innings.
The 28-year-old, who is just appearing in his fifth Test, converted his maiden Test hundred into a brilliant double before the spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja tightened the noose around the exhausted South Africans. At the close of play on Day 2, the visitors were struggling at 39/3 with Temba Bavuma (2*) and Dean Elgar (27*) at the crease. The Proteas are still trailing by 463 runs.
Ashwin provided India with the first breakthrough as he cleaned up Aiden Markram with a classical off-break that turned sharply. He then added another wicket under his tally before Jadeja joined the party by dismissing night-watchman Dane Piedt on a duck.
Rohit and Agarwal, who resumed the Indian innings at 202/0, converted their opening partnership into a record-breaking one with a 317-run stand before lunch. With their massive stand, they surpassed Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid to record India’s highest partnership for any wicket against South Africa.
Agarwal stole the show after Rohit’s departure and keeping the requirement of the team in mind, increased the intensity of his innings. His first hundred came off 204 balls and second off 154 balls. The Bengaluru-based cricketer, whose previous four Tests were in Australia and West Indies, collected 23 fours and six maximums, most of them coming against the spinners. He batted for the majority of the afternoon session, which was extended by 30 minutes to make up for overs lost due to rain on the first day.
Agarwal’s memorable knock came to end when he smashed a full ball from Dean Elgar towards deep mid-wicket and a diving Piedt took a diving catch.
South Africa struck through pacer Vernon Philander first ball after lunch, raising hopes of a South African fightback. Cheteshwar Pujara (6) was the man dismissed, bowled off a Philander beauty that moved away just enough to rattle his off-stump. Captain Virat Kohli (20) joined Agarwal in the middle and looked in sublime touch during his short stay. He was disappointed to get out after getting set. A regulation ball stopped on Kohli, who ended up offering a simple return catch to debutant Senuran Muthuswamy, giving the South African his first international wicket.
Rohit, who too hit 23 fours and half a dozen sixes like Agarwal, was eventually dismissed in the 83rd over. At lunch, India were 324 for one in 88 overs with the host scoring 122 runs in the session at 4.28 runs per over.
(with inputs from PTI)
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