Agarwal shows the drive
Pune, October 10
Opener Mayank Agarwal stamped his authority on a struggling South African attack with a second successive hundred as India cruised to 273/3 on the opening day of the second Test. Play was stopped in the 86th over due to fading light.
The 28-year-old Agarwal’s rich vein of form continued as he looked in complete command for his 108 off 195 balls, having made a sublime 215 in the series-opener in Visakhapatnam last week. The first day of the second Test panned out the way of the first Test as India, leading 1-0 in the series, looked to bat out the visitor on a good surface. Along with Cheteshwar Pujara (58), Agarwal added 138 runs for the second wicket with minimum fuss, despite India losing Rohit Sharma’s (14) wicket in the first hour itself. In the final session, skipper Virat Kohli (63*) completed yet another Test half-century and added 75 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (18*). Kohli hit some flowing drives during the final hour and had 10 fours to his credit.
87 to 103
The highlight of the day, however, was Agarwal’s knock comprising 16 fours and two sixes. The opener raced to his second Test hundred in impressive fashion — he moved from 87 to 99 when he hit left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj down the ground for consecutive sixes in the 56th over of the day. Next over, he played an intentional back cut off Vernon Philander to complete the coveted milestone off 183 balls.
Agarwal got 74 runs off 18 balls in boundaries, while the remaining 34 runs came off 177 balls. Kagiso Rabada (3/48) hit better lengths during the course of the day and was easily the most potent bowler.
Rabada got Rohit early with a beautiful delivery that pitched on a length and moved only a shade to kiss the outside edge of Rohit’s bat before going into wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s gloves. Rabada was unlucky to miss out on a second wicket — of Pujara — when Temba Bavuma, at short leg, missed a reflex catch. The batsman was yet to get off the mark at that stage. Rabada finally had Pujara caught at first slip, but not before the India No. 3 had scored his 22nd Test half-century. During the first hour, Agarwal was all caution against Philander and Rabada, who bowled a probing first spell. Agarwal was smart enough to wait for the third seamer, rookie Anrich Nortje, to be introduced into the attack. Nortje was guilty of bowling fuller deliveries at a drivable length outside the off-stump and finished the day with figures of 0/60 in 13 overs.