VISAKHAPATNAM: Opening batsman Mayank Agarwal completed a double century Thursday before India bowlers left South Africa battling for survival on day two of the first Test in Visakhapatnam.
Agarwal made 215 out of India’s first-innings total of 502 for seven declared at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium.
South Africa then lost cheap wickets before play ended, reaching 39 for three at the close, with Ravichandran Ashwin leading a spin rout of the top order.
Ashwin bowled Aiden Markram for five and Theunis de Bruyn caught behind for four. Nightwatchman Dane Piedt was bowled middle stump by Ravindra without scoring.
Opener Dean Elgar, on 27, and Temba Bavuma, on two, were at the crease, with their side needing another 264 to avoid a follow-on.
The 28-year-old Agarwal put on a record 317-run opening stand with opening partner Rohit Sharma to set the tone for India’s dominance.
“We are very happy with the way we have played in the first innings but there is no room for complacency,” Agarwal told reporters. “We are going to make sure that since we have the upper hand we will keep coming back keep putting the pressure on South Africa.”
He added: “It was great batting alongside him [Rohit Sharma]. It was good that we can get these big partnerships for India early on. It’s nice obviously... getting a 300-run partnership feels great.”
The right-hand batsman smashed six sixes and 23 fours in a 371-ball knock, using the reverse sweep to good effect as he made his mark in just his fifth Test.
Agarwal eventually fell to part-time spinner Elgar before leaving to handshakes from South African players.
He said that ‘long-distance running’ and batting for long hours in the nets during practice was the reason behind his marathon knock.
Sharma fell for 176, stumped off Keshav Maharaj before lunch. Sharma, who resumed the day on 115, smashed the ball to all parts of the ground.
India then suffered two quick blows. Cheteshwar Pujara went for six and skipper Virat Kohli for 20.
Paceman Vernon Philander bowled Pujara on the first delivery of the second session. Debutant spinner Senuran Muthusamy had Kohli caught and bowled as his maiden Test wicket.
Jadeja, who made 30 not out, and wicket-keeper/batsman Wriddhiman Saha, who hit 21, gave useful support in building up the huge total.
Maharaj took three wickets from 55 overs of left-arm spin and said it was among the ‘toughest’ conditions he had bowled in.
“I think it was probably one of the toughest surfaces I bowled on in terms of it being a lot slower and not biting as much,” said the slow left-armer. “Obviously you get slow turn, but I just felt the ball didn’t really kick off the wicket. But the cracks have been opening up because of the heat around, so there is a little of bit of assistance now opposed to when we first started off.”
The pitch had started turning as India sent in Ashwin and Jadeja to make quickfire strikes on the South African batsmen.
INDIA (1st Innings, overnight 202-0):
M.A. Agarwal c Piedt b Elgar 215
R.G. Sharma st de Kock b Maharaj 176
C.A. Pujara b Philander 6
V. Kohli c and b Muthusamy 20
A.M. Rahane c Bavuma b Maharaj 15
R.A. Jadeja not out 30
G.H. Vihari c Elgar b Maharaj 10
W.P. Saha c Muthusamy b Piedt 21
R. Ashwin not out 1
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, W-1, NB-2) 8
TOTAL (for seven wkts decl, 136 overs) 502
FALL OF WKTS: 1-317, 2-324, 3-377, 4-431, 5-436, 6-457, 7-494.
DID NOT BAT: I. Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
BOWLING: Philander 22-4-68-1; Rabada 24-7-66-0; Maharaj 55-6-189-2 (1nb); Piedt 19-1-107-1; Muthusamy 15-1-63-1 (1nb, 1w); Elgar 1-0-4-1.
SOUTH AFRICA (1st Innings):
D. Elgar not out 27
A.K. Markram b Markram 5
T.B.M. de Bruyn c Saha b Ashwin 4
D.L. Piedt b Jadeja 0
T. Bavuma not out 2
EXTRAS (LB-1) 1
TOTAL (for three wkts, 20 overs) 39
FALL OF WKTS: 1-14, 2-31, 3-34.
TO BAT: F. du Plessis, Q. de Kock, V.D. Philander, S. Muthusamy, K.A. Maharaj, K. Rabada.
BOWLING (to-date): I. Sharma 2-0-8-0; Mohammed Shami 2-2-0-0; Ashwin 8-4-9-2; Jadeja 8-1-21-1
Published in Dawn, October 4th, 2019