India v South Africa: Rohit Sharma emulates Sunil Gavaskar as Dane Piedt endures nightmare Test

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Rohit Sharma can't stop scoring tons. Image credit - BCCI/Twitter.

India put themselves in a great position to push for a win in the first Test against South Africa in Vizag after the hosts put on another commanding display with the bat on the penultimate day.

Having bundled out the Proteas for 431 runs in the morning session to seize a vital 71-run first innings lead, India’s batsmen raced away to 323-4 before skipper Virat Kohli elected to declare the second innings.

After being set a daunting target of 395 to win, South Africa suffered a major setback in the form of first innings centurion Dean Elgar’s dismissal which left them reeling at 11-1.

With the No1 ranked hosts now nine wickets away from taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, we take a look at the key talking points from Day Four.

ROHIT EMULATES GAVASKAR WITH TWIN TONS

Rohit Sharma’s debut as a Test opener couldn’t have gone any better with the right-hander slamming a majestic 176, but there was plenty more to come from his willow in his second outing as well.

Having seen his opening partner Mayank Agarwal dismissed cheaply by Keshav Maharaj, Rohit threw caution to the wind straight away by unleashing a flurry of sixes against the Proteas spinners. The 32-year-old struck a total of seven sixes to take his match tally to 13, and, in the process, broke Wasim Akram’s record for the most maximums in a single Test.

The Mumbai man brought up his second ton of the match in some style and then went on an impressive assault against off-spinner Dane Piedt whom he struck for three consecutive sixes. The debate over Rohit’s Test inclusions is surely set to rest for some time to come after he stretched his home batting average past the 100-run mark to move ahead of the great Sir Don Bradman.

With his twin centuries, Rohit has now emulated the legendary Sunil Gavaskar with the former India opener attaining the same feat thrice in his illustrious career.

PIEDT’S NIGHTMARE TEST 

No where to hide for Piedt at Vizag.

No where to hide for Piedt in Vizag.

While Rohit Sharma wrote himself into the history books with his superb batting show, South Africa’s spinners will want to look away after achieving a notorious record of their own.

Both Keshav Maharaj and off-spinner Dane Piedt conceded more than 100 runs apiece in the first innings and the duo was at the receiving end once again as Rohit and Cheteshwar Pujara took them to the cleaners on Saturday.

Despite the worn-out pitch offering sharp turn, the two spinners went at almost six runs an over as Rohit struck sixes for fun in Vizag. While Maharaj still managed to grab two wickets despite conceding 129 runs, there was no hiding place for Piedt who had absolutely no answer against a rampant Rohit.

The off-spinner had managed to grab just the sole wicket in the first innings but he wouldn’t even get that consolation in the second where he conceded 102 runs in just 17 overs.

Piedt’s nightmare Test saw him concede a total of 209 runs in 36 overs with his overall economy-rate standing at 5.80. To take such a hiding in your first Test appearance in over three years can break the morale of any bowler and the 29-year-old could very well have played his last one for a while based on that display.

PUJARA FINALLY FINDS FORM

While India’s batsmen had made merry in the first innings, good form had still eluded top-order stalwart Cheteshwar Pujara who had a dismal tour of the West Indies just recently.

The right-hander finally found some joy on Saturday but he did have to dig in at the start of his innings.

Pujara’s first 62 balls at the crease on the penultimate day fetched just eight runs but he ultimately broke the shackles by thumping four boundaries in the space of seven deliveries. Once he had awoken from his slumber, there was no looking back for the right-hander who even managed to reach bring up his 50 before Rohit at the other end.

The two batsmen shared a 169-run brisk stand for the second wicket where Pujara was the primary contributor and he was looking on course to register his 19th Test ton before he fell to Vernon Philander for the second time in the match.

While he will be disappointed to not touch three figures after his 148-ball stay at the crease, his well-constructed innings of 81 will give him plenty of confidence going forward in the series.

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The T20I battle begins between the two teams. Image - PCB/Twitter.

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India v South Africa LIVE: Hosts build on lead after Proteas dismissed for 431

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Rohit Sharma has been in full flow. Image - BCCI/Twitter.

Seven wickets for Ravichandran Ashwin helped India bowl out South Africa for 431 on day four of the first Test on Saturday.

The spinner registered his 27th five-wicket haul on Friday, before taking two more wickets to wrap up the innings in the morning session in Visakhapatnam.

Dean Elgar remained the hero of the South African innings with his 160 that revived the tourists’ batting after they had slipped to 63 for four.

Elgar’s century partnerships with skipper Faf du Plessis, who made 55, and Quinton de Kock, who hit 111, were key to the Proteas’ fightback.

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