He waited. And he kept the crowd waiting. He bid his time, playing out a maiden over right after lunch. The boisterous Ranchi crowd began to grow even more restless when the drama dropped to a simmer, but the cheers were ultimately answered when Rohit Sharma (212, 255b, 28x4, 6x6) executed a full-blooded pull off Lungi Ngidi to bring up his maiden Test double hundred.
The Rohit conundrum didn't tax the South Africans for the entire day, but the two hours of mayhem he unleashed might have done enough to snuff out the visitor's last remaining hopes. South Africa finished the second day's play, staring down the barrel on 9/2, still 488 runs behind India's first-innings score.
When Rohit's carnage of 28 fours and six sixes ended off Kagiso Rabada’s bowling, every South African player walked up to shake hands with him. But Rohit's innings was only one half of the pounding they took on Sunday. The other half was Ajinkya Rahane's (115, 192b, 17x4, 1x6) sublime 11th Test century.
You could see the relief on Rahane's face as he pushed Anrich Nortje wide of cover point to bring up his first Test hundred at home since 2016. Last month on the tour of the Caribbean, he broke a sequence of 17 Tests without a century, making 81 and 102 in the first Test in Antigua. Looking back, it was perhaps a sign of things to come from a batsman who has been labelled as the "most sorted guy" by skipper Virat Kohli.
Not only did Rohit and Rahane dismantle South Africa's bowling in the early half of the first session, they also hit them the hardest where it would hurt them the most— ruthlessly attacking their young fast bowlers.
If Rohit laid into Lungi Ngidi by collecting three boundaries in one over, Rahane unleashed several delectable cuts, cover drives and pull strokes as the two put on a mammoth 267-run partnership for the fourth wicket.
Rahane was finally dismissed when George Linde had him caught behind for his maiden Test dismissal. The ball pitched on a length and turned away outside off; Rahane, unable to negotiate the bounce, feathered the edge behind. It was, however, a momentary respite for the Proteas from the torrent of runs being clattered past them. Rohit's ability to switch into higher gears seamlessly, was once again on display as he waltzed towards his double hundred riding on a phase of sustained big hitting.
Following Rohit's dismissal, Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha joined hands to keep the scoreboard ticking as India continued to score at a rate of nearly four runs an over in the post-lunch session. The duo took the total past 400 with a 47-run sixth-wicket stand before Saha was clean bowled by Linde.
The left-arm spinner then snapped up his third wicket in Jadeja, who fell after a well-struck fifty. Umesh Yadav, meanwhile, entertained with a 10-ball cameo, clobbering five sixes — all off Linde — before holing out to Heinrich Klaasen. India eventually declared on 497/9.
India's fast bowlers breathed fire in deteriorating light and overcast conditions. Mohammad Shami, in an hostile opening over, had Elgar caught behind for a second-ball duck while Umesh Yadav removed de Kock for four.
But with the floodlights out in full force and the sky darkening, Kohli was forced to bowl the spinners. Shahbaz Nadeem had bowled two consecutive maidens on his home ground when bad light brought an end to the day’s play.
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