Rohit Sharma overcame a nervous start to stroke his first century in his new role as an opener as India reached 202 without loss in 59 overs on the first day of the test series against South Africa.
Opening the innings in a test for the first time, Sharma hit 5 sixes and 12 boundaries and was unbeaten on 115 from 174 balls at the time of penning down. Mayank Agarwal was batting on 84 not out.
It’s the first test since Sunil Gavaskar and Ramnath Parkar paired up against England in 1972-73 that India has selected two fresh openers in a home test match.
The new duo appeared to be unsure at the crease in the early overs when Sharma struggled against Vernon Philander (0-19), who used the new ball to good effect and hit a brilliant length outside off.
Sharma played and missed a couple of times as he worked hard to counter the little movement Philander generated. At the other end, Kagiso Rabada (0-16) tested Agarwal with some short bowling but without success.
India made slow progress in the first hour, scoring only 37 runs off 15 overs.
The South Africans introduced spin in the ninth over via left-armer Keshav Maharaj (0-26). With spinners operating in tandem after the drinks’ break, the openers found their rhythm and opened up. Sharma, in particular, changed gears quickly and smashed Maharaj for a six.
He hit a second six off Dane Piedt (0-20), who also conceded a six to Agarwal as India upped the scoring rate and took 54 runs in the second hour of play.
Sharma and Agarwal, India’s ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017.