Despite getting off to a poor start, India managed to post 224/3, before the play was called off due to downpour on Day 1 of the third and final Test at the JSCA International Complex Stadium in Ranchi on Saturday. Rohit Sharma continued his fine run as he completed his sixth century in the longer format of the game, becoming the only Indian opener after Sunil Gavaskar to slam three Test hundreds in a series.
At the close of play, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were unbeaten at the crease as the duo added 185 for the fourth wicket. Rahane was batting on 83, while his partner had added 117 under his name.
The Proteas made five changes to their line-up after suffering massive defeats in the first two matches. Aiden Markram was forced out after injuring his wrist in Pune. Left-arm unorthodox wrist-spinner George Linde made his debut in place of injured Keshav Maharaj, who was ruled out owing to a shoulder injury sustained in the same clash.
After two lackluster outings, Vernon Philander also made way for Lungi Ngidi, while Zubayr Hamza was picked in place of Theunis de Bruyn. Dane Piedt replaced Senuran Muthusamy with the Proteas maintaining their line-up of three pacemen.
Looking at the nature of the track, India decided to rest Ishant Sharma and included left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem in the playing 11. The 30-year-old also made his Test debut after making an entry in the squad late on Friday in place of injured Kuldeep Yadav. Nadeem plays domestic cricket for Jharkhand and kick-started his international career at his home ground.
After electing to bat first, South Africa’s pace battery led by Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje inflicted some early damage on the hosts as the hosts were reduced to 39/3 at one stage.
Mayank Agarwal, who has already scored a double century and a ton in the ongoing series, was removed cheaply on 10, while Cheteshwar Pujara failed to add a single run on the scoreboard.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who scored a brilliant double century and anchored India’s victory in the previous encounter, was trapped LBW on 12.
However, after Kohli’s dismissal, Rohit and Rahane held the fort as they helped India bounce back in the contest. For South Africa, Rabada scalped twice, while Nortje had to be content with one.
The pair of Rohit and Rahane will resume the proceedings on Day 2 as India will once again aim to post another gigantic first innings total on the board.