Rohit Sharma hammered his first century as an opener in the Indian cricket team during the Vizag Test vs South Africa. (Image credit: PTI)
Before the start of the Vizag Test, there was plenty of attention on Rohit Sharma. The right-hander is acknowledged as one of the best players in ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals but his Test career has been stop-start at best. Rohit's selection as opener for the Vizag Test drew some uncertainties, with some people saying Rohit technically lacks the application and mindset to open and face the new ball in Tests. However, Rohit silenced his critics in grand style by hammering his fourth Test century and his first as an opener to put India on top on the opening day of the Vizag Test against South Africa.
The fact that Rohit was given a dry pitch which would assist the spinners later worked to his advantage. Vernon Philander generated some late swing and Rohit was beaten a couple of times. Kagiso Rabada also tried to play on his patience but Rohit overcame all that and applied himself brilliantly. After getting off in style with a crunching boundary off Rabada, Rohit survived a tough period.
After negotiating the first hour beautifully, Rohit and Mayank Agarwal ensured that they did not squander the advantage. Rohit broke the shackles in style by hammering left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj for his first six. The right-hander neared his fifty with yet another six off Dane Piedt and a boundary off debutant Senuran Muthusamy. However, before lunch, Rohit had a nervous moment as he top-edged a sweep off Muthusamy just over the fielder at fine leg to notch up his fifty.
After the lunch break, Rohit continued to find the boundary and at the same time, he ensured that he did not get bogged down by rotating the strike on a regular basis. The Mumbai right-hander neared his century by blasting two consecutive sixes off Dane Piedt and steering a flatter delivery from Keshav Maharaj to the third man fence.
Rohit notched up his landmark by driving Muthusamy to deep cover and the celebrations spoke of the importance of the knock. Rohit became the fourth Indian after KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw to score a century in his maiden innings as an opener. Ever since 2016, Rohit has actually had a good run in Tests. In the series against New Zealand, Rohit smashed 82 and 51 in the Kolkata and Nagpur Tests followed by a century against Sri Lanka in Nagpur 2017.
With twin fifties in the Delhi match, Rohit struggled afterwards in the South Africa series but contributed a vital 63 against Australia in Melbourne which helped India win a series for the first time Down Under. In Vizag, the right-hander notched up his sixth consecutive fifty-plus score. Rohit's ton and his partnership with Mayank Agarwal at the top has given Indian cricket plenty to smile and one would be hoping his consistency remains.