Ajinkya Rahane ended a three-year wait for a Test hundred at home when the India vice-captain went past the three-figure mark on day two of the ongoing third Test against South Africa in Ranchi.
Rahane hit his 11th Test hundred and second of 2019 with the seasoned campaigner putting his batting troubles well and truly behind him.
Rahane resumed batting on Sunday on his overnight score of 83 and got going with a cracking cover drive against South Africa pacer Anrich Nortje. Rahane got to his landmark in just 169 balls, having hit 14 boundaries and a six.
He eventually departed for 115, falling to George Linde who picked up his maiden Test wicket as Rahane tried to play a nothing cut shot.
Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, is still at the crease as he closes in on a maiden double century. He put the pressure on South Africa pacers, hitting boundaries at will.
Sharma is currently on 184, his third 150-plus score in Test cricket. Can he get to his maiden double hundred? He looks good to get a really big one here.
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India took on South Africa in the third and final Test of the series at Ranchi and though it was a dead rubber as far the series was concerned, there were points on offer for both teams to add to their World Championship tally.
India currently lead that table with 200 points from four games while the Proteas are stuck on zero points.
India made one change to their team, bringing in left-arm spinner Shabaz Nadeem for Ishant Sharma. After picking up 424 wickets at the first-class level, He became India’s 296th Test player.
The visitors made as many five changes with Henrich Klassen, Zubayr Hamza, Dane Peidt, Lungi Ngidi and George Linde making their way to the playing XI. Notably, Quinton de Kock will be opening the batting for the Proteas, alongside Dean Elgar.
A DAY FOR INDIA TO REMEMBER
An enthralling opening day was unfortunately cut short due to poor light in the evening, with only six overs bowled in the final session. India are well placed at 224-3 with Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten at the crease.
Faf du Plessis has had worse luck with the coin than Aiden Markram with the bat away from home. After losing two consecutive tosses, he walked to the middle with Temba Bavuma and asked his team-mate to toss the coin. That didn’t make any difference as he was once again asked to field by his counterpart Virat Kohli. South Africa have now lost 10 tosses on the bounce in the subcontinent .
South Africa’s strength has always been their pace bowling and with their best spinner out injured, they opted to include all their speed merchants for this game. This meant that Vernon Philander had to miss out but the strategy did work with the bowlers troubling the Indian top-order on a fresh pitch with the new ball.
Kagiso Rabada’s opening spell was fiery as he found the perfect length to bowl at very quickly and was rewarded with two early wickets. His probing line right on off-stump had Mayank Agarwal nicking one to third slip before his inswinger trapped Cheteshwar Pujara LBW. This was the first time ever Pujara was dismissed for a duck in a Test match at home.
However, the biggest scalp of the morning went to Anrich Nortje when he caught Kohli plumb in front of the stumps, setting him up by bowling two balls that moved away from the right-hander followed by the one that came back in.
From 39/3, Rohit and Rahane batted extremely well to help India to a position of strength by the end of the second session. The duo counterattacked brilliantly post-lunch, scoring 134 runs in 29 overs. They set the record for the highest fourth-wicket partnership for Indian pair against South Africa with their unbeaten 185-run association.
ROHIT LIGHTS IT UP
Rohit helped himself to the third century of the series and became only the second Indian opener after the great Sunil Gavaskar to score three tons in the same series. He also broke Shimron Hetmyer’s record for the most sixes in a Test series during the course of his knock. Sharma has cleared the boundary 17 times in this series so far.
The opener has been particularly severe on off-spinner Dane Piedt, whom he has struck for 11 maximums in three innings. The 32-year-old also joined the elite group of openers to have scored nine international hundreds in a calendar year. Only Sachin Tendulkar (1998), Graeme Smith (2005) and David Warner (2016) have achieved this before.
Rahane who is in search of his first ton at home since 2016, played an able foil to Sharma’s brilliance with a classy knock at the other end.
South Africa are once again staring down the barrel on a pitch that displayed variable bounce on the opening day. However, the premature end to the proceedings should be a respite for the Proteas, allowing them to regroup and start afresh on Sunday.
Day 1, Stumps: India – 224/3 (Rohit 117*, Rahane 83*; Rabada 2-54)
Hayden Walsh Jr. and Brandon King, the highest wicket-taker and top run-getter in the 2019 Caribbean Premier League, have been included in the West Indies T20I & ODI squad for the series against Afghanistan in November.
Leg-spinner Walsh Jr., who made his debut for USA in 2018, picked up 22 wickets for the CPL champions Barbados Tridents in 9 games. The 24-year-old King, a key figure in the 11-match winning run of the Guyanna Amazon Warriors, smashed 32 maximums in the tournament and amassed 496 runs in 12 innings.
Romario Shephard is another CPL star who has forced his way into the Windies team after picking up 13 wickets in the 2019 edition.
Keiron Pollard, who last played an ODI in 2016, will lead the team in the limited overs formats. Star all-rounder Jason Holder has been named in the squad for all formats and remains the captain of the Test team.
Notable absentees in the ODI & T20I squads include Carlos Brathwaite, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine and Rovaman Powell.
The Afghanistan-West Indies series, which will be played in Dehradun, India, begins with the 3-match T20I series on November 5,7 and 9. This is followed by three ODIs on November 13, 16 and 18 before finally finishing with an one-off Test that begins on November 27.
The Windies will then play a T20I and an ODI series against India in December.
T20I squad: Kieron Pollard (capt.), Nicholas Pooran, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford, Brandon King, Fabian Allen, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Lendl Simmons, Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Denesh Ramdin, Kesrick Williams, Alzarri Joseph.
ODI squad: Kieron Pollard (capt), Shai Hope, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, Sunil Ambris, Nicholas Pooran, Brandon King, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Hayden Walsh Jr., Khary Pierre, Sheldon Cottrell, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph, Romario Shepherd.
Test squad: Jason Holder (c), Shai Hope, John Campbell, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shimron Hetmyer, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Sunil Ambris, Jomel Warrican, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, Alzarri Joseph