The saga of Rohit Sharma and Test cricket came in for another twist on the opening day of the first Test in Vizag. His newest avatar in this format, as an opener, was one of the biggest talking points ahead of the Test. And after two sessions, and an unbeaten 115, he’d put many of those doubts to rest. India, who had named their playing on the eve of the first Test, opted to bat on a dry surface.
Expecting the pitch to turn, South Africa picked three spinners in Maharaj, Piedt and Muthusamy, who is more of a batting all-rounder. All eyes were expectedly on Rohit whose stop-start Test career has taken a new direction with the management accommodating him at the top of the order. Indian opening pair was facing its own set of nerves. Mayank Agarwal had never played a Test in India while his partner, Rohit Sharma, had never opened in a Test. Both batsmen showed enough discipline to not try and dominate the bowling. The new ball moved around for about a few overs, and then the South African spinners – three of them – showed neither the skills to trouble the batsmen nor the discipline to tie them down. On a slow, dry pitch, the odd edge produced by the quicks didn’t carry, and the two batsmen quickly turned aggressive, hitting seven sixes between them, rendering the in-out fields ineffective.
The hundred, for Rohit Sharma in his maiden innings as an opener, and fourth overall came off a backfoot punch towards the end of the second session putting to rest, for the time being, any doubts over his opening credentials.
Pushed into the shadow as a result was a stylish 84 from Agarwal at the other end, before bad light forced an early Tea break. No play was possible in the final session due to rain, giving du Plessis and Co. some respite.