If the first day belonged to Rohit Sharma and his brilliant hundred, then the second day belonged to Mayank Agarwal. The Karnataka right hander smashed his maiden double century and his 317-run opening stand with Rohit helped India reach 502/7 declared. In response, Ravichandran Ashwin and ravindra Jadeja put on a mastery of spin bowling in conditions that helped the spinners immensely to reduce South Africa to 39/3 at the end of day 2 of the Vizag Test at the ADA VDCA stadium on Thursday.
Agarwal's double century is reward for years of toil at the domestic level. Couple of seasons ago, Agarwal was the leading run-getter in Indian domestic cricket but he failed to make a breakthrough in the Indian team. Following his solid exhibition in the series in Australia, Agarwal has not looked back and his batting was in parts solid, aggressive and according to the situation.
On day 1, Agarwal had played second fiddle to Rohit but on day 2, he decided to make the South African bowlers toil. Rohit was already looking in ominous form with some confident boundaries but Agarwal cautiously progressed towards his ton. On 99, there was a slight confusion whether they should take the single on a misfield but on the very next delivery, Agarwal got the ton which he so desired and the celebrations on reaching the landmark summed up how much he wanted the ton. Rohit continued to bat aggressively and when he lofted Keshav Maharaj for a six and then blasted an inside-out boundary to extra cover, it seemed he would reach a double century.
However, Maharaj had the last laugh and he dismissed Rohit with a lovely delivery that spun away and had Rohit stumped for 176. The 317-run stand was the best stand in Tests between India and South Africa. Following the lunch break, Cheteshwar Pujara was bowled by a leg-cutter from Vernon Philander. Virat Kohli struck some confident boundaries but on 20, he chipped a ball that stopped on him right back to Senuran Muthusamy who picked up his first wicket in Tests.
Agarwal motored along and he reached the 190s with a six off Maharaj and he notched up his double century in grand style. Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari failed to get going and it needed a solid knock from Ravindra Jadeja to get India past 500, following which Kohli declared.
In 2015, South Africa had suffered a massive trial by spin in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja. In 2019, the Proteas were determined to tackle the duo but they floundered. Aiden Markram was cleaned up by a lovely offbreak from Ashwin. Dean Elgar, who began with two boundaries off Ishant Sharma, looked in good touch but his partners struggled. Theunis de Bruyn was undone by Ashwin again while nightwatchman Dane Piedt was cleaned up a Jadeja quicker delivery that straightened and breached his defences.
South Africa could have been in even more trouble had Hanuma Vihari at short leg latched on to a flick from Temba Bavuma off Jadeja first ball. However, the task confronting South Africa on the remaining days, with the pitch crumbling and assisting the spin, is as tall as the mountain that is located behind the ADA VDCA stadium.