Monday, 17 January 2022

Sharma helps India set South Africa 395 to win


VISAKHAPATNAM: Rohit Sharma struck a second hundred in his debut as Test opener to help India set South Africa a daunting 395 to win the opening match of their series.

The hosts declared their second innings on 323 for four in the final session of day four in Visakhapatnam.

South Africa were 11 for one at stumps with Aiden Markram, on three, and Theunis de Bruyn, on five, at the crease.

The visitors need another 384 runs and India nine wickets on the final day to get ahead in the three-match series.

“We picked up a crucial wicket, so as a team we are happy with the way things went today and hope to start off well (tomorrow),” Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who made 81 in India’s second innings, told reporters.

“It will not be easy to bat on this pitch on day five, with a little more assistance for the spinners. And with variable bounce, even the fast bowlers will come into play.”

Ravindra Jadeja struck early after trapping first-innings centurion Dean Elgar for two in the fourth over of the innings.

The left-handed Elgar, who made 160 in the first innings, was given not out by the on-field umpire only for India to get the decision overturned with a TV review.

Markram and de Bruyn then played out the remaining overs from spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja until bad light forced the extended play — to make up for lost time due to thunderstorm on day one — to be called off.

Sharma, who made 176 in India’s first innings of 502 for seven declared, is the first batsman to hit two tons in his first match as a Test opener.

He also hit 13 sixes, the most in a Test match, breaking Wasim Akram’s record of 12.

Sharma put on 169 with Pujara to frustrate South Africa after the loss of opener Mayank Agarwal for seven.

“The way Rohit was playing allowed me to settle down. Only he can play such shots on this track,” said Pujara.

“Our partnership between lunch and tea was crucial. Our communication was good as we have batted together a lot in Under-19 cricket. It was enjoyable to watch his batting from the non-striker’s end.”

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