Mayank Agarwal double-hundred grinds South Africa into dust


Stumps South Africa 39 for 3 (Elgar 27, Ashwin 2-9) trail India 502 for 7 dec. (Agarwal, 215, Rohit 176, Maharaj 3-189) by 463 runs

India assumed total control of the Vizag Test on day two with their openers pressing home the advantage from day one and their spinners making clear the difference in class between both teams. For 136 long overs, South Africa seemed to be the mercy of the batsmen’s adventure for wickets, but the moment R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja began to operate, the drift, the dip and then the turn made the pitch look much more dangerous than it had been.

Mayank Agarwal turned his maiden Test century into a double, Rohit Sharma fell just short of one himself; together they added 317, the third-highest opening stand for India. The wearing pitch made it difficult for the remaining batsmen to press the scoring rate, but India had enough on the board to ask South Africa to bat 20 overs on the second evening. Bowling for the first time in international cricket this year, Ashwin took 13 balls to bowl Aiden Markram through the gate. South Africa were three down by stumps.

Mayank Agarwal laces one towards point © BCCI

Rohit and Agarwal resumed with promise of more punishment, and South Africa sabotaged themselves by dropping Rohit in the fifth over the day before missing a run-out opportunity too. Rohit seemed mindful of the time lost to rain on the first day and kept attacking the bowling. It also allowed Agarwal to play the second fiddle and ease his way to his maiden Test hundred. Before Rohit was stumped when playing a forward-defensive, he had added 61 in 71 balls on the second morning.

Agarwal’s was a properly paced Test innings and just reward for his toil in domestic cricket that made it impossible for the selectors to look away. He was never too slow, and kept accelerating gradually even as wickets fell at the other end. Cheteshwar Pujara got a beauty from Vernon Philander first ball after lunch, Virat Kohli got one that stopped in the pitch, and Ajinkya Rahane added another low score at home by hitting straight to cover. But at the other end, Agarwal never let things stall. His first hundred took 202 balls, the next 115 came in 159 balls. He matched Rohit six for six: the 12 hit between them were the highest for an India opening pair.

More to follow

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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