Rohit Sharma hits century on debut as opener

Rohit-Sharma_16d8c4dfa76_mediumVISAKHAPATNAM: Rohit Sharma smashed an unbeaten century in his new role as a Test opener as India reached 202 without loss on a rain-hit opening day of their home series against South Africa Wednesday.
Sharma – a star of India’s limited-overs side – was at the crease on 115 with Mayank Agarwal on 84 after the hosts elected to bat in the first of the three Tests in Visakhapatnam.A sudden thunder storm forced the umpires to call tea seven minutes early and no further play was possible after heavy rains lashed the coastal city.

Sharma completed his fourth Test century in the second session with a single off debutant spinner Senuran Muthusamy to raucous cheers from the home crowd and the dressing room. He hit five sixes and 12 fours from 174 balls and showed frequent glimpses of the form that has made him a feared one-day batsman.

Rohit Sharma achieved an average of 98.22 in Tests in India. In 15 innings, Rohit has scored 884 runs, including four hundreds and five fifties. Interestingly, Rohit Sharma’s average is the joint-best among all batsmen with 10-plus innings, sharing the top spot with none other than the legendary Don Bradman, who also averaged 98.22 at home in 50 innings.
Agarwal, like Sharma, also used his feet to good effect against the South African spinners who struggled on the batting-friendly pitch.Agarwal, playing his fifth Test since making his debut last year, raised his fourth half-century with a six off lead spinner Keshav Maharaj.
Both Sharma and Agarwal, who hit 11 fours and two sixes, took apart the opposition bowling in the second session of play as India scored 111 runs after taking lunch at 91-0. Sharma, who got to his 50 before lunch, shifted gears and went after the slow bowlers as he hammered off-spinner Danie Piedt for two successive sixes to move into the nineties.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis rotated his spinners for a large part of the day with intermittent spells from pacemen Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander. Philander, who got Sharma out for a two-ball duck in a practice game last week, tested the senior batsman early on in the innings by swinging the ball both ways.

Sharma got off the mark as an opener in the longer format in style as drove Rabada for a boundary at backward point. India, who top the Test World Championship rankings, are looking for a record 11th Test series win at home in the three matches.

Moreover, Rohit Sharma joined Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul and Prithvi Shaw to become the 4th Indian to score a century when opening for the first time in Tests.Rohit Sharma also became the first Indian to score a century each, across formats, as an opener.

Rohit Sharma is now the seventh batsman in the world to score a century in Tests, ODIs and T20Is as an opener, after Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Ahmed Shehzad, Shane Watson, and Tamim Iqbal.
“I think it suits my game,” Rohit Sharma said after rain forced early stumps on Day 1 in Vizag.”Just wear the pads and go in to bat. I don’t like the waiting game,” he added.”You know the bowlers who are bowling with the new ball, so the game plan is easier for you… At number six, the ball is reversing, field placement is different and you need to keep all those things in mind,” Rohit Sharma said.

As far as the match is concerned, Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat against South Africa. Rohit Sharma (115*) and Mayank Agarwal (84*) took the hosts to 202/0 at stumps on Day 1.
(With AFP Inputs)

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