Vihari ton seizes the day for India A

Promoted to No 3, Hanuma Vihari struck a brilliant 138 not out to help India A touch the 300-run mark on Day I of the second four-day game against South Africa A at the Platinum Oval here on Friday.

Hanuma Vihari followed up his half-century in the first Test with a crucial hundred on day one of the second Test.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

After a double hundred and a mammoth opening stand with Prithvi Shaw in the first Test, nobody expected Mayank Agarwal to be dismissed fourth ball of the first over in the second game against South Africa A at the Platinum Oval here on Friday.

Electing to field, South Africa brought its A game to the fore right from the onset. 

Agarwal missed Duanne Olivier’s line and nicked the ball straight to Zubayr Hamza at second slip. 

The lull, in the empty ground, seemed eerie. 

Mayank Agarwal — the number man unplugged!

But then, Hanuma Vihari — the forever unsung hero — walked in. The batsman who delivers, and keeps delivering. No demands, no questions asked. 

Shaw hit a couple of boundaries in his 20-ball 16, but Anrich Nortje got the better of him in the eighth over; behind the stumps, Rudi Second barely drops dollies.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer stuck around for a while, stitching a 62-run stand for the third wicket with Vihari, but he fell prey to slow left-arm bowler Senuran Muthusamy in the 24th over. 

The scoreboard read 80 for the loss of three wickets. 

Bad light stopped play for 10 minutes, and once back, Vihari — 138* (273b, 10x4) — seized the day.

 

He started to test the patience of the Proteas bowlers. In a sparkling form since the tour of England — the Andhra batsman slammed a hard-fought hundred to steer India A out of danger on Day I. 

Vihari took 133 balls and 179 minutes to reach his half-century. The next 50 runs came off 82 balls. He found a partner-in-crime in Ankit Bawne, who struck a solid 80 (10x4, 1x6). The duo shared a partnership of 177 runs for the fourth wicket.

At one point, the Rahul Dravid education came to the forefront. Both the batsmen were constructing a wall; blocking every delivery that came their way. Vihari barely reached out to the ones outside off-stump, and Bawne flicked the ones on his legs. Bawne looked set for a hundred before stand-in skipper Dane Piedt got him stumped an hour before the close of play.

It brought K. S. Bharat to the crease, who played his natural game devoid of any pressure. 

At the end of day’s play, Bharat remained unbeaten on 30 off 51 balls; four fours and India finished 322 for the loss of four wickets. Oliver, with an economy rate of 3.00, was the pick of the bowlers.

Brief scores: India 322/4; H Vihari 138*, A Bawne 80; D Olivier 1/54) at stumps