Mayank Agarwal slammed his second ton as India reached a superb position at the end of day 1 of the Pune Test against South Africa. (Photo Credit: PTI)
When Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat in Pune, the Indian team heaved a collective sigh of relief. The MCA pitch was different from Vizag. This pitch had more pace and bounce as compared to Vizag. For Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal, the key was to play out the new ball. They played out 10 overs and the first hour. Rohit fell cheaply, but Agarwal carried on and notched up his second century. Backed by superb fifties from Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, India ended the first day at 273/3. Agarwal's ton was the highlight against a South Africa attack who were more disciplined as compared to Vizag.
Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada found seam movement and extra bounce as Rohit and Agarwal made slow progress. The occasional bad ball was put away and after 10 overs, South Africa were in danger of being exposed to two batsmen who had gotten their eye in. However, Rabada struck by removing Rohit for 14 and India's X-factor at the top in Vizag had been removed.
The Pune pitch demanded patience and application and luckily, in Agarwal and Pujara, they had two batsmen who weathered the storm. Pujara stonewalled and Agarwal made serene progress. South Africa resorted to short-pitched bowling, but Agarwal withstood debutant Anrich Nortje's short-ball barrage and ensured India did not lose any more wickets.
In the second session, South Africa were guilty of letting the initiative slip as they conceded too many boundaries. Pujara notched up his fifty and Agarwal was nearing a ton. However, at the stroke of tea, Rabada once again struck the crucial breakthrough as Pujara edged the bowler to Faf du Plessis at slip. Following the resumption, Agarwal neared his ton by smashing two consecutive sixes off Keshav Maharaj and he notched it up in style by steering Philander to the third man fence.
His second ton came under difficult circumstances but it was a tribute to Agarwal's temparament, who adjusted his game according to the conditions. However, Rabada, by far South Africa's best bowler, struck yet again when he removed Agarwal for 108. Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane came together and although it was not smooth sailing, they ensured India reached a position of safety.
After a slow start, Kohli started finding the boundary and he reached his landmark with two fours off Philander. However, the light deteriorated and stumps were pulled with India 273/3. Kohli would now be hoping to reach three figures and get India to a position of strength. However, they will also be hoping for some co-operation from the weather gods, with the weather not expected to be good for the remaining days.