Agarwal and spin duo tighten India's grip

Visakhapatnam: Indian batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma, in action during the second day of the first cricket test match against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, on Oct. 3, 2019 (Photo: IANS)

Visakhapatnam: Indian batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma, in action during the second day of the first cricket test match against South Africa in Visakhapatnam, on Oct. 3, 2019 (Photo: IANS)

INDIA continued their dominance on day two of the first Test match against the Standard Bank Proteas at Visakhapatnam on Thursday as a double century on debut from Mayank Agarwal set them up for a total in excess of 500 before the spin duo of Ravi Ashwin and Ravendra Jadeja took three South African wickets before the close.


The Proteas closed on 39/3 – one of those wickets being that of night watchman Dane Piedt – to face a deficit of 463 runs going into day three after India had declared on 502/7.


Much of the continuation of the Indian innings on day two was a copy of day one when the seamers, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander, kept good control before the spinners leaked a lot of runs.


In total, India scored 300 runs on the day for the loss of 7 wickets but the key statistic was the fact that the run rate for the innings was closer to 4 than 3 to the over.


Rohit Sharma (176 off 244 balls, 23 fours and 6 sixes) and Agarwal (215, 371 balls, also 23 fours and 6 sixes) made their partnership worth 317, the third highest opening partnership in India Test history, before Sharma became the first of Keshav Maharaj’s three wickets. It was 99 runs more than India’s previous highest opening partnership against South Africa.


Jadeja’s 30 not out was the next best contribution to the Indian total but by then the damage had been done while Maharaj had the best bowling return of 3/189 from a mammoth 55 overs.


Senuran Muthusamy had the satisfaction of claiming Virat Kohli as his maiden Test wicket, a return catch off the leading edge.


The declaration left the Proteas with a tricky 20 overs to face before the close with Aiden Markram, who was bowled by a beauty through the gate, and Theunis de Bruyn, caught behind off the inside edge, both falling to Ashwin who had figures of 2/9 from 8 overs in his first Test match of the year.


Jadeja then accounted for Piedt and the situation would have been worse had Temba Bavuma not survived a sharp chance to short leg early in his innings.


He and Elgar (27 not out, 63 balls, 2 fours and a six) will resume South Africa’s uphill battle tomorrow. Significantly, Elgar was the most positive of the batsmen which will be the way to go on a pitch that is still good for batting although there is some turn and variable bounce to assist the bowlers.


It is certainly not the minefield of 2015.