JOHANNESBURG – Indian opener Mayank Agarwal scored a second consecutive hundred as India took control of the second Test against South Africa in Pune on Thursday.
The elegant 28 year old right hand opener, made 108 on the opening day of the Test match, backing up his skipper Virat Kohli’s decision to bat first after he’d won the toss once again. When bad light eventually stopped play with just under five overs remaining in the day, India were 273/3, with Kohli not out on 63.
He will resume batting on Friday in the company of Ajinkye Rahane, who struggled his way to 18.
It was Agawarl, who scored a double century in the first Test, which India won by 203 runs, who once again proved too technically proficient for the South African bowlers. The tourists had a fairly lively pitch to bowl on in the first session, but while Vernon Philander regularly beat the outside edge, and had one lbw appeal that went to the TV umpire not go in his favour, the other two seamers struggled to find the right lines and lengths.
Rohit Sharma’s was the only wicket to fall in the first session, which was insufficient penetration from the South Africans given the conditions at their disposal in that first session.
Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara shared a partnership of 138 for the second wicket, and neither were in any discomfort regardless of the different plans the South Africans employed. When debutant Anrich Nortje, pitched the ball up looking for swing, Agarwal drove beautifully through the covers and when Nortje, who replaced Dane Piedt in the Proteas starting team, employed a short ball barrage after lunch, the Indian opener showed his proficiency on the hook and pull as well.
Pujara, who made 58, became Rabada’s second wicket thanks to an excellent low catch by Faf du Plessis at slip, but Agarwal did not let that upset his rhythm as he recorded a fine century, in which he balanced attack and defence smartly.
He became Rabada’s third wicket in the final session, when he too edged to Du Plessis, this time at second slip, for 108 that saw him hit 16 fours and two sixes.
Kohli looked in sublime touch as the clouds closed in over Pune in the final session, and eased his way to 63 with 10 fours.
Rabada’s figures of 3/48 in 18.1 overs were just reward as he adjusted well after a disappointing first spell. He bowled with great aggression, and especially in the final session hurried the batsmen up with a mixture of good deliveries at the back of a good length, while he also used the short ball cleverly.
Philander may think himself unlucky, given how many times he beat the edge in the first session, while Nortje, bowled with plenty of pace, but needs to get his lines right if he is to make an impression. Nevertheless he can feel pleased with his initial foray in the Test arena.
Keshav Maharaj had another disappointing day, despite spinning a few balls passed the batsmen. The Indians have upset his rhythm, and the control that Du Plessis demands from him when he is not taking wickets was absent. He went wicketless through 29 overs conceding 89 runs.
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