Mayank Agarwal scored a brilliant maiden test double-century as India strengthened their hold on the Proteas at the end of Day 2 of the opening Test in Vizag on Thursday. Agarwal and Rohit Sharma put on 317 for the first wicket- the third highest ever for India in their history, and the hosts’ spinners reduced South Africa to 39/3 to leave the visitors with an uphill task to save the test.
Resuming at their overnight score of 202/0, the pair of Sharma and Agarwal continued from where they left off as they added another 115 runs together. Sharma had an early reprieve when Quinton de Kock dropped a tough chance, but apart from that, there was very little from the Proteas bowlers, for whom it quickly became a damage control exercise. Keshav Maharaj eventually provided the much needed breakthrough by having Rohit stumped by De Kock for a fine 176.
A superb delivery from Vernon Philander accounted for Cheteshwar Pujara, who made just 6, and Virat Kohli had a rare failure as he gave debutant Senuran Muthusamy his maiden international wicket, top-edging one straight into the hands of the Dolphins spinner.
Kohli however seemed more happy than upset at his dismissal, seemingly noticing how the pitch had behaved and realising that it would favour India’s spinners even more when the Proteas had their chance to bat.
The pair of Agarwal and Ajinkya Rahane added 54 runs for the fourth wicket stand, before Rahane was caught at cover by Bavuma off Maharaj while attempting to up the scoring rate.
Two over later, Agarwal fell to part timer Dean Elgar, holing out at at deep mid wicket for a magnificent 215. His knock comprised of 23 fours and 6 sixes.
Ravi Jadeja reamined unbeaten at 30 and wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha also made a useful contribution with a quickfire 21 as India declared their innings at a mammoth score of 502/7. However it was evident that run making was becoming progressively more difficult as the day wore on, and that India had used the best batting conditions in the first session.
Maharaj was South Africa’s best bowler as he toiled hard in the Vizag sun and picked up 3 wickets for 189, while Philander, Piedt, Muthusamy and Elgar bagged a wicket each.
South Africa’s first innings started disastrously, as the returning Ravi Ashwin sent Aiden Markram back to the pavilion for just 5.
Theunis de Bruyn hung around for a while before being enticed to drive by Ashwin, who chose to bowl round the wicket to him. The Titans star got an under edge that was gleefully poached by wicket keeper Saha. The Proteas sent in Dane Piedt as night watchman, but he lasted just four deliveries before being bowled by Jadeja, playing for the turn when there was none.
The pair of Elgar and Temba Bavuma managed to survived the day without further damage, as South Africa ended Day 2 at 39/3, trailing India by a whopping 463 runs with three days still remaining in the first Test.