Rohit Sharma's centuries in both innings of the Vizag Test have helped India reach a position of strength against South Africa. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
When Rohit Sharma hit a century in the first innings as an opener, the Indian cricket team and the fans heaved a big sigh of relief that Rohit had finally shown his prowess at the top in the Test arena. In the second innings, Rohit blasted yet another century. The audacity, the aggression shown by Rohit was simply a sight to watch. Rohit joined Vijay Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar, Rahul Dravid, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to achieve this feat and his century helped India set South Africa a target of 395. Ravindra Jadeja got rid of Dean Elgar, the first innings centurion and that has given India an added advantage heading into the final day.
The fourth day continued South Africa's fightback with Senuran Muthusamy getting the Proteas past 400. In the first hour, South Africa chipped away at India's deficit but Ravichandran Ashwin got both wickets to finish with 7/145 and India getting a 71-run lead. Rohit signalled his intentions in grand style with two big sixes off Keshav Maharaj but the left-arm bowler got the big wicket of first innings double centurion Mayank Agarwal for 7.
That brought Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease. The Saurashtra batsman started slowly while Rohit was continuing to score at a decent rate. At one point, before the drinks break in the second session, Pujara was strking at just over 10 while Rohit neared his fifty. There was a hilarious moment captured on stump mic when Rohit abused Pujara for not taking the single and that set off something.
Pujara matched Rohit stroke for stroke and got going in style. Rohit notched up his 50 but he had a slice of good fortune along the way, with Quinton de Kock missing a stumping chance off him. After reaching his fifty, Rohit had some more good fortune. The Mumbai right-hander lofted Dane Piedt to long on, Muthusamy ran to his right, took the catch and threw it back inside the ropes. However, when he caught the ball, his foot was in touch with the ropes and a six was signalled.
Rohit and Pujara's stand went past 100 and the lead burgeoned. Pujara edged Kagiso Rabada twice, only for the ball to fly past de Kock twice. Rohit moved to the 80s with a couple of fours off Maharaj while Pujara launched his second six by hammering Piedt over deep square leg. However, Philander dismissed Pujara for the second time with a legcutter for 81 but Rohit had no problems as he reached his century with a flick off the same bowler.
The milestone is significant for Rohit's Test career as he looks to establish himself in the longer format and bring the initimidation factor which Virender Sehwag possessed. After getting to the landmark, he launched three consecutive sixes off Piedt before he was stumped for the second time in the match by Maharaj. His tally of 13 sixes is the most by a player in Tests in India and his 127 gave India a great platform. Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane scored quick runs and when India declared for the second time, they set South Africa a target of 395.
With the light deteriorating, India opened with Jadeja and Ashwin. The Chennai offspinner almost got rid of Dean Elgar with a shooter but the ball only clipped the off stump. Jadeja, though, had more luck and he trapped Elgar LBW after a review worked in his favour with the ball just pitching in line. Aiden Markram and Theunis de Bruyn played cautiously before light ended play with three overs remaining. South Africa have an uphill task to save the match but the day once again belonged to Rohit, who signalled that he is here to stay with the Indian Test team for a good period of time.