Mayank's maiden double century puts India in commanding position

Mayank Agarwal hit a double ton as India declared its innings on 502/7. Ashwin and Jadeja then spun a web to leave South Africa at 39/3 at the end of Day two.

Mayank Agarwal exults after scoring a double century against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.   -  K.R. Deepak

His helmet came off and he took a long look at the sky as he held his bat aloft and soaked in the applause of the crowd. Mayank Agarwal, India's 295th Test cricketer, drove firmly down towards long-off to bring up his maiden double hundred as bat dominated ball again on Day 2 in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

Day 2: As it Happened

Agarwal frustrated the South African attack to the point of submission, and while the opposition was keeping a wary eye on Rohit Sharma, the Karnataka batsman snuck up from behind and executed the perfect hammering. India declared on 502/7.

READ: Rohit-Mayank create record for opening partnership

On a day of warm, cloudless sunshine and in conditions devoid of any encouragement for the bowlers, Sharma and Agarwal laid into a hapless South African attack to bring up only the third 300-plus opening stand for India in Tests, and the best partnership for any wicket against the rainbow nation. However, South Africa had a half-chance in the first session which went begging, when Sharma was dropped on 125 by keeper Quinton de Kock off Vernon Philander.

Insipid bowling

The spinners were blown to smithereens while the pacers were meted out similar treatment. South Africa, which chose to go with a spin-heavy attack, seemed like a bowler short after the Indian openers had taken Piedt to the cleaners on day one.

IND vs SA : DAY 1 REPORT

Add to that a tiring Maharaj and a largely ineffective Senuran Muthusamy, the lacklustre performance was an accident waiting to happen. There was variable bounce for the quicks early on though, with a couple of Philander deliveries keeping low but nothing too alarming to put the batsmen off their track.

Sharma continued from where he left off, waltzing past 150 with an assortment of big hits which included a deft reverse sweep past point for four.

He had carted 23 fours and six sixes when Maharaj finally got rid of him with a flighted delivery to break a 317-run opening stand. Sharma, looking to drive a tossed up delivery, was beaten by the turn and stumped for 176.

With no chirping from the fielders, no celebrations on the fall of the wicket and muted reactions from the bowlers, the day was threatening to turn from bad to hopeless. That's when Philander produced an absolute beauty to get Cheteshwar Pujara out off the first ball after lunch — a length delivery that pitched on middle and off, seamed away just enough to hit the top of off-stump.

Aggressive Agarwal

But that proved to be just a momentary respite as Agarwal, in the company of Kohli, piled further misery. He moved to 150 with a flick off his hips square on the leg side for four. Kohli, at the other end, played a couple of delightful cover drives before Muthusamy had him caught and bowled for his maiden Test wicket.

Agarwal, meanwhile, kept finding the gaps before playing one aggressive shot too many. An attempted slog sweep off Dean Elgar went straight to Piedt, as South Africa saw his back after he had denied them for 491 minutes. He accumulated 215 runs in 371 balls with 23 fours and six sixes.

India's Wriddhiman Saha and Rohit Sharma celebrate the dismissal of Theunis de Bruyn on Thursday.   -  K.R. Deepak

 

Ravindra Jadeja and Wriddhiman Saha upped the ante in the final session with some lusty blows, before Kohli decided to give his bowlers around 85 minutes on a pitch that has already started showing signs of deterioration.

South Africa finished on 39/3, its top order falling to spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (two wickets) and Ravindra Jadeja. The visiting side needs to make 303 to avoid follow on.