Ranchi, Oct 19: Opener Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane stitched together a vital 108-run partnership untill after lunch as the pair led the repair work after India’s top-order batsmen faced heat for the first time in the series in the first session of the third Test match against South Africa at Ranchi.
Having lost the toss in both the Tests, Faf du Plessis walked along with his deputy Temba Bavuma for the toss, which the latter called unsuccesfully as India opted to bat amidst overcast conditions.
Uneven bounce greeted the Indian openers and Rabada and Lungi Ngidi made full use of the conditions to give the visitors their best start of the series. Kagiso Rabada set the tone, bowling good length and finding movement and took two early wickets of Mayank Agarwal, out for 10 and Cheteshwar Pujara (0) inside the first-hour’s play. . Importantly, he steered clear of the short of a good length default that South African bowlers are known for.
From the other end, Virat Kohli was struck plumb in front by Anrich Nortje, reducing India to 39 for three in 15.3 overs. Rohit Sharma however showed some resistance and smashed five delectable boundaries and a six over the fine leg after successfully reviewing a decision when he was given out on seven. Giving him company was vice captain Ajinkya Rahane who looked resolute as they staged a recovery.
Pacer Rabada was impressive in his first spell of 7-4-15-2. The first breakthrough came in Rabada’s third over when the pacer swung it away with Agarwal edging it to Dean Elgar at third slip. The young fast bowler dismissed Pujara in his fifth over following a successful review by the Proteas after on-field umpire Richard Illingworth turned down an lbw appeal.
But it was Nortje who earned the prized scalp of India skipper Virat Kohli, who could not read one that came back in sharply. Kohli took the review but it was not unsuccessful. Rohit Sharma and Rahane then stitched an unbeaten century stand to ensure do not suffer any more damage even as the sun played hide and seek.