KL Rahul become only the second Indian opener (after Wasim Jaffer's 116 in 2006-07) to hit a century in South Africa as the visitors dominated the Proteas on Day 1 of the first Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion Sunday. Rahul's Boxing Day century powered India to 272/3 in 90 overs. He was in an unbeaten 73-run stand for the fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane (40 off 81), who was preferred over Shreyas Iyer for the series opener. In the process, Rahul also joined legends Saeed Anwar of Pakistan and Chris Gayle of West Indies to hit centuries in Australia, England and South Africa as openers. Rahul stitched a 117-run opening stand with Mayank Agarwal (60 off 123) to give India a good start. He then witnessed the fall of two wickets, those of Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara for a first-ball duck, in two balls. Rahul and skipper Virat Kohli (35 off 94) then added 82 runs for the third wicket. For South Africa, Lungi Ngidi took all three wickets. India are yet to win a Test series in South Africa. Catch Day 1 highlights and scores of SA vs IND here:
8:52 PM IST: Stumps
Keshav Maharaj with the final over of the day. A maiden to KL Rahul. And India end the day on 272/3 in 90 overs. The visitors will resume Day 2 with Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane on 122 and 40 runs respectively. IND - 272/3 (90)
8:01 PM IST: Rahul Ton
A Boxing Day hundred for KL Rahul. He survives some tense moments against Keshav Maharaj, then hits a four, to deep backward point off the fifth ball. 218 balls, 14 fours and a four. His seventh Test ton, second in four matches. IND - 238/3 (78)
7:44 PM IST: Drinks
Ajinkya Rahane quickly moves to 17 off 25, with four fours. He looks different, determined. Already in a 23-runs stand with KL Rahul, who's on 96 off 207. IND - 222/3 (74).
16 overs remaining.
7:18 PM IST: Kohli Goes
Lungi Ngidi again. The pacer breaks an 82-run stand. Virat Kohli pokes one and the Indian skipper is out for 35 off 94. Caught by Wiaan Mulder at first slip. Ajinkya Rahane is the new man. IND - 199/3 (68.2)
6:48 PM IST: Rahul-Kohli Stand Grows
Fifty-run (59 off 129) stand for the third wicket. KL Rahul (74 off 177) and Virat Kohli (32 off 73). India add 32 runs in the last ten overs. IND - 176/2 (62)
6:14 PM IST: Tea
Wiaan Mulder with the final over before Tea. KL Rahul (68 off 166) hits the first ball for a four, his 11 today. He's in a 40-runs stand with Virat Kohli (19 off 54). The session witnessed India lose two wickets in two, but the skipper and his deputy have since steadied the ship. IND - 157/2 (57)
5:48 PM IST: A Little Stand
25-run stand in 57 balls for KL Rahul (59 off 147) and Virat Kohli (13 off 31). Keshav Maharaj gets his fourth over. 13 without success. IND - 142/2 (50)
5:21 PM IST: Rahul Fifty
After four innings without a fifty, KL Rahul reaches the mini-milestone, in 127 balls with a four. His 13th Test fifty. Fuller from Lungi Ngidi and Rahul plays a good-looking cover drive. IND - 122/2 (43)
5:08 PM IST: Pujara Out For Duck
Sensational. One wicket leads to another. Cheteshwar Pujara goes for a first-ball duck. A simple catch for Keegan Petersen at short leg. Top-edge. Lungi Ngidi on a hat-trick. Virat Kohli next. IND- 117/2 (40.3)
5:04 PM IST: Agarwal Goes
South Africa take a good review and Lungi Ngidi gets the wicket. Mayank Agarwal (60 off 122), LBW. Given not out, but out. On the backfoot. Clipping top of the leg stump. Cheteshwar Pujara joins KL Rahul (47 off 121). IND - 117/1 (40.2)
4:15 PM IST: Agarwal Fifty
Mayank Agarwal hits Marco Jansen for a four to long-off and fifty in 89 balls (eight fours). 150 and 62 in Mumbai earlier this month, and another half-century in Centurion. IND - 90/0 (30)
4:12 PM IST: Post-lunch
Kagiso Rabada resumes post-lunch proceedings in Centurion. Mayank Agarwal one hit away from another Test fifty.
3:30 PM IST: Lunch
Keshav Maharaj with the final over before lunch. A single, off the last ball as Mayank Agarwal moves to 46 off 84. KL Rahul unbeaten on 29 off 84. India's session. IND - 83/0 (28)
2:50 PM IST: Dropped
Mayank Agarwal hits Marco Jansen for back-to-back fours, then a fine edge. But Quinton de Kock and Dean Elgar see the ball go past between them. Agarwal gets a life on 36. IND - 52/0 (18)
2:14 PM IST: Good Start For India
Debutant Marco Jansen with the tenth over of the innings. Mayank Agarwal gives him a taste of Test cricket with three fours. Indian openers look in control. Agarwal and KL Rahul unbeaten on 23 off 31 and 9 off 29. IND - 32/0 (10)
1:29 PM IST: Freedom Series Begins
Kagiso Rabada with the new ball. KL Rahul takes the strike. His opening partner is Mayank Agarwal.
1:08 PM IST: Playing XIs
India opt for four bowlers + one all-rounder in Shardul Thakur, instead of Ishant Sharma. And Shreyas Iyer misses out. Meaning, Ajinkya Rahane gets another chance to save his Test career.
South Africa: Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi.
India: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.
1:04 PM IST: Toss
India win the toss and will bat first.
Centurion will be a test for batsmen on both sides. On paper, the Indian batting order looks formidable but against Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Company, the likes of KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Kohli will have to prove their worth.
For skipper Kohli, this is a big series for many reasons. First and foremost, Kohli needs to score runs and prove his leadership skills. He has not scored a century in over two years and at a time when he is not on good terms with the BCCI bosses, only Kohli's bat can do the talking.
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Let the game begin ðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂªðÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ»#TeamIndia #SAvIND pic.twitter.com/GZ4G0X8YXU— BCCI (@BCCI) December 26, 2021
Kohli remains India's batting spine. This series will test his batting skills as well as his mental strength. It remains to be seen if Kohli can handle all the external pressures and focus on his game. Head coach Rahul Dravid is backing Kohli to shine and play freely.
For Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, lucky to be on this Indian squad, this SA vs IND series will determine their Test future. Both need to justify their selection. Ditto for Ishant Sharma, if he gets a place in the Playing XI.
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South Africa are in a rebuilding stage. Their strength will be the pace attack. Although they will miss Anrich Nortje, whose exploits are very well known to the Indians, thanks to IPL, South Africa will aim to make breakthroughs and take control in what should be a fascinating Test match.