Evergreen Ishant Sharma blows away West Indies

AP Updated: 24 August, 2019, 10:34 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

Ishant Sharma frustrated the West Indies with the bat and foiled the home side with the ball to keep India on top after two days of the first test on Friday.

Sharma helped India from 203-6 overnight to a bonus 297 all out, then took 5-42 to limit the West Indies reply to 189-8, trailing by 108 runs.

The quick dismissal of Rishabh Pant for 24 drew Sharma to the crease, alongside Ravindra Jadeja. Together, they pushed India hopes of a 250 total far beyond expectations.

Their composed stand of 60 lifted India to 267 until Sharma was tricked by a slower ball from Shannon Gabriel and bowled on 19. Sharma was the eighth man out.

But Jadeja continued to corral the tail-enders, striking up a handy 29-run stand for the last wicket with fellow fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah.

Jadeja celebrated his 11th test fifty, his second straight and fourth in six innings with India's only six of the innings, a flat swat over midwicket. Jadeja was last man out on 58 from 112 balls, and India had an imposing total.

Gabriel finished with three wickets, and Kemar Roach four.

The West Indies reply was full of waste. Unlike the India top order which was blasted out, all of the main home batsmen made starts only to fail to go on.

John Campbell edged a Mohammed Shami yorker on to his stumps on 23, and fellow opener Kraigg Brathwaite was caught and bowled by Sharma at knee height on 14.

Newcomer Shamarh Brooks took 16 balls to get off the mark, and on his 36th ball he was out for 11 to Jadeja.

Darren Bravo and Roston Chase led West Indies to tea, but Bravo was out to the first ball he faced afterward, trapped by Bumrah on 18, and costing his side a review.

Chase was up to 48 when he was out to a brilliant catch at square leg by KL Rahul, as Sharma took the last four wickets of the day, the last three at a cost of eight runs.

Shai Hope edged behind on 24, and in the same over Shimron Hetmyer was caught and bowled by Sharma at ankle height on 35, and Roach was caught in the slips on 0.

Left in the middle were captain Jason Holder on 10 not out, and Miguel Cummins, who was yet to score.

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News Cricket

Kohli and Rohit are my favourite cricketers as I personally know both of them – Priyanka Chopra

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 5:41 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are the two most followed cricketers in the world. Their batting has class written all over it. While Rohit Sharma is known for big scores in limited-overs cricket, Virat Kohli is scripting new records across formats. Priyanka Chopra, the famous actor, is one of their biggest fans. She recently revealed that Rohit and Virat are her favourite cricketers.

She also spoke about the World Cup where her in-laws were supporting England against the Men in Blue while Priyanka was cheering for Virat Kohli-led team. The home nation won the match by 31 runs and even went on to win the tournament in the end.

The Indian team is currently playing in a three-match Test series against South Africa. Rohit Sharma's 176 and Mayank Agarwal's 215 were enough to put India in the driver's seat.

News Cricket

Great Rohit Sharma will score 1000 runs in five Test matches against England – Shoaib Akhtar

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 5:38 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

In the first session, debut test opener Rohit Sharma was out for 176. Sharma crossed 150 off 225 balls and looked set for a surprising double century in his new role when he was stumped off Keshav Maharaj (2-169 six overs before lunch.

It was the 10th time both Indian openers have scored hundreds in the same innings.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africa last week.

Agarwal and Sharma scored 317 runs, the third-highest opening stand for India in test cricket after 413 (Vinoo Mankad-Pankaj Roy against Pakistan in 1955-56) and 410 (Virender Sehwag-Rahul Dravid against Pakistan in 2005-06).

Sharma had resumed batting Thursday on 115 while Agarwal was unbeaten on 84. Rain had washed out most of the final session on Wednesday after India captain Virat Kohli won the toss.

Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar has urged Rohit Sharma to add a G before his name (GRS = Great Rohit Sharma). He further added that Rohit will score 1000 runs in a five-match Test series against England.

Feature Cricket

India Grind SA, But Proceed with Caution

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 3 October, 2019, 5:30 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

South Africa were reminiscing the last tough tour of India even as they headed into the first Test in Vizag. It came as no shock, therefore, that South Africa seemed to play like visitors, sedate and still coming to terms late into the second day. While India’s openers stories is a much needed breath of fresh air, the bugle sounds caution for the future.

There was as much speculation about Rohit Sharma’s place in the team and his new role as India’s Test opener as there was about Rishabh Pant’s viability as India’s wicketkeeper in the near future. To that end, India found at least one answer, albeit for the moment.

Rohit Sharma’s near double century and Mayank Agarwal’s maiden double century ensured India ground South Africa, reminding them of how hard this tour of the Indian dust bowl was going to be. For some of South Africa’s bowlers, such as spinner Senuran Muthusamy, it was a tough initiation. For others, it was a timely reminder of the last tour that went India’s way, arguably with some dubious pitches to contend with.

Despite South Africa’s studious mind set, India still had to exploit the advantage of winning the toss.

To the openers’ credit, the duo not only put on a mammoth opening wicket partnership, but also, blunted the South Africa’s hope of making amends for the last tour. Although it is still early days on the tour, the first two days have fielded a monumental task already for the weary, sweaty visitors, having spent considerable time under the sun and in extremely humid weather.

While Rohit Sharma has made good on the opportunity fallen upon him fortuitously after KL Rahul’s underwhelming recent performances. Yet despite the terrific effort that has yielded a huge, early advantage for the hosts, this is only the beginning of Rohit’s stint as an opener.

While playing at home may have its advantages, India will still be wise to keep an eye on grooming a youngster for the opening role on more aggressive, fiery foreign pitches when India tour. It is still the long term perspective if India are to lay the platform for continued world dominance in the Test arena.

While Rohit Sharma could indeed carve a longer Test career with this unexpected, bonus opportunity, the litmus test awaits beyond the Indian sub-continent. While Mayank Agarwal is slightly older than Rohit in the role of the opener and this first performance off the blocks have been phenomenal as it has dominated the proceedings, India would still want to pay close attention to the bench strength, given the pivotal role that the opener’s presents.

News Cricket

Mayank Agarwal makes 1st Test century a double ton celebration

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 3:13 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

After scoring his first century in only his fifth test, Mayank Agarwal made it a double.

The India opening batsman was out for 215 during the second session Thursday on the second day of the first test when South African bowlers got back into the match, albeit a bit late. They claimed four wickets to leave lndia 450 for five wickets at tea.

Ravindra Jadeja (6 not out) and Hanuma Vihari (8 not out) were the unbeaten batsmen going into the final session.

After the lunch break, South Africa made a strong start with Vernon Philander (1-56) bowling Cheteshwar Pujara (6) off the first ball. India also lost the wickets of Virat Kohli (20), Ajinkya Rahane (15) and Agarwal.

India had resumed the rain-shortened first day at 202-0 and was 324-1 at lunch Thursday.

In the first session, debut test opener Rohit Sharma was out for 176. Sharma crossed 150 off 225 balls and looked set for a surprising double century in his new role when he was stumped off Keshav Maharaj (2-169 six overs before lunch.

It was the 10th time both Indian openers have scored hundreds in the same innings.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africa last week.

Agarwal and Sharma scored 317 runs, the third-highest opening stand for India in test cricket after 413 (Vinoo Mankad-Pankaj Roy against Pakistan in 1955-56) and 410 (Virender Sehwag-Rahul Dravid against Pakistan in 2005-06).

Sharma had resumed batting Thursday on 115 while Agarwal was unbeaten on 84. Rain had washed out most of the final session on Wednesday after India captain Virat Kohli won the toss.

Sharma and Agarwal were India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017. Kohli has said that limited-overs specialist Sharma, who averages 39.62 in 27 tests since 2013, will open for the short term with Lokesh Rahul sent back to domestic cricket to regain form.

News Cricket

I do yoga and even visit temples regularly in Durban – South African debutant

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 2:40 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Senuran Muthusamy, the new kid on the block, made his debut in the ongoing first Test between India and South Africa. The 25-year old batting all-rounder was ecstatic after getting a chance to play his maiden Test against the country of his origin. Though his family moved to South Africa from Tamil Nadu long back, he still loves India.

“Our roots are from Chennai. I have still got family in Nagapattinam (about 300 kms from Chennai). Many generations have passed through but the Indian connect is very much there and our culture is very much Indian,” Muthusamy told PTI.

“My parents were ecstatic when they found out about my selection (for South Africa) and my debut tour against India makes it even more special," he added.

“I do yoga back home in Durban which has the largest Indian population in South Africa. We visit temples regularly and some of my family even speaks Tamil. Unfortunately I don’t but I am slowly starting to learn the language.”

Feature Cricket

Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar: Cricket’s Cautionary Tales

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 3 October, 2019, 1:46 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The recent revelation of a stress fracture for Jasprit Bumrah who now misses the home Test series against South Africa and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s long absence from Test cricket reckoning are Indian cricket’s cautionary tales as far as fast bowlers are concerned.

Although only six years into his international career, Jasprit Bumrah has been integral to team India’s fortunes. Not for nothing does Virat Kohli rate Bumrah highly. The fast bowler does not only have a somewhat uncanny action but also, is a downright match winner, irrespective of which format of the game he plays.

Although there was a waiting period before Bumrah was put to the test in Test cricket, that there is no imagining now of a Test squad without Bumrah speaks highly of the performance and potential of the young pacer. And yet this injury is a bitter blow and a cautionary tale that while India can be euphoric about their fast bowlers, they cannot afford to get carried away.

Even Australia had their compulsions in the recently concluded Ashes series. Forced to make bowling changes, to rotate bowlers to prevent injuries and manage the talent, Australia plausibly missed a trick and therefore, the series by bringing in Josh Hazlewood a tad too late.

Now India will grapple, though not quite as much with Umesh Yadav back in the reckoning and Ishant Sharma part of the team. But it does void Kohli the chance to push for glory, particularly at home and against a South African team that is bristling from inexplicable peaks and valleys in fortunes and undergoing a few chances themselves. It does not give Kohli the cushion to plan a momentum for greater world dominance unless they have a pace department management in place.

The BCCI harped on the fact that they were spending money on expensive radiology tests, one of which detected Bumrah’s injury. But if India want the best of talent at their healthiest and at their fittest, the BCCI is going to have to dig into its deep pockets to ensure that bowlers, pace bowlers in particular, are regularly monitored, checked, rested and rotated to ensure that there are few injury niggles and breaks which put a clamp on India’s momentum as well.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is almost a forgotten story in India’s Test history. And it is a sad reflection because one of the pivotal turnarounds in Virat Kohli’s captaincy was the tour of South Africa in 2017-’18. Playing the first Test, Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed his prowess. Yet he was made to sit out the second Test. By the time he was blooded back in into the third Test, India were ruing mistakes and the loss of a potential first series win overseas under Kohli.

Although India had to wait until the end of 2018 for Kohli to taste his first overseas Test series success, coming after seven decades down under, by then Bhuvneshwar Kumar was virtually resigned to history by India’s coach, Ravi Shastri, who perhaps reckoned that the bowler had to contend with enough injuries to take him out of contention as far as Test cricket is concerned. Paying attention to rehabilitation and investing in key players who could provide such dividends as Bhuvneshwar did in South Africa is still an alien concept in Indian waters, even with an extensive support staff in place.

While there seems to be an air of nonchalance about Wridhhiman Saha making a comeback into Test cricket as India’s wicketkeeper, not to be forgotten is how Saha’s injury detection, treatment and thereafter, rehabilitation became a huge point through midway last year.

With Bumrah’s rise, it is easy to overlook the fact that India did not have to groom other young talent. But now with Bumrah’s injury, it has forced the Indian think tank into a huddle. But will this serve as a cautionary tale?

While epitaphs are already being written about bowlers who were never quite the same after injury, while India are banking heavily on Bumrah to make a steadfast and early return, they would do better to have a proper man management in place as far as a more diverse, versatile and fresh pace attack is concerned.

News Cricket

There is no question of dropping my pace despite injuries - Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:40 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been one of the most exciting Indian talents since he helped India in winning the U19 World Cup. His ability to bowl over 150kmph made him famous.

He was handed IPL contract by Kolkata Knight Riders. Kamlesh also became the first bowler from Rajasthan to pick List A hat-trick in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match against Gujarat. However, he had to miss two IPL seasons after he suffered a stress fracture of the back.

The young pacer has returned stronger and was recently named in the upcoming Emerging Nations Asia Cup.

“It was tough, I used to get emotional watching the IPL on TV. All my teammates were playing and I was recovering from an injury. It used to be frustrating but my main aim was to get fit and get back on the ground. I worked really hard for that,” Nagarkoti was quoted as saying by Cricket Next.

He had to make changes in his action to prevent injuries.

“Coaches told me that my front-foot was going across and that was increasing the pressure on my back, I have made it a bit straighter and I am comfortable with the action. There is no question of dropping my pace. Whatever happened has happened, I am not thinking about it too much. I want to show everyone that I am still the same bowler and I am looking forward to whatever opportunity I get. I have worked hard on my body, diet to regain my fitness,” he signed off.

News Cricket

Allan Donald and Dennis Lillee were my cricketing idols – Zaheer Khan

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:08 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

The third edition of the T10 League will kick start in Abu Dhabi on November 15th. The competition has nine franchises: Kerala Knights, Maratha Arabians, Bangla Tigers, Punjabi Legends, Deccan Gladiators, Delhi Bulls, Northern Warriors, Rajput, and the newly-formed Qalandars.

Former Indian fast bowler Zaheer Khan will play for Bengal Tigers. He opened up about a lot of things in a chat posted on the official YouTube channel of the league.

When Zaheer was asked to name one batsman from the past he would love to bowl, he said: “Well! There are so many. I really enjoyed my time bowling to the best batsmen in the world. On their day, Mind you! Anyone can be as destructive as possible. So, it’s important, as a bowler, you focus on the positives but I’ve enjoyed all the challenges.”

He also spoke about his cricketing idols. “Well! Cricketing idol, growing up for me was a lot of bowlers that I used to follow. Allan Donald’s run-up to the crease. I used to read Dennis Lillee’s book which is called ‘Art of fast bowling,” he mentioned.

“When I started playing cricket, I was a very keen reader of that book and I happened to spend some time with Lillee as well. So, he was right up there. I was fortunate enough to spend some time and get some valuable coaching lessons from him.”

News Cricket

Murali Vijay should have been given a longer run - Sunil Gavaskar

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:03 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Former Indian opener Sunil Gavaskar is miffed with selection policy of Team India. He expressed his displeasure at the constant chopping and changing of the playing XI, stating that this impacts the mindset of players who are despite good performances.

He further added someone like R Ashwin should play regularly.

“You don’t become ICC’s No. 1 Test bowler for nothing. He has the ability to pick wickets anywhere in the world. The team management has to understand this and back him,” he said.

He also gave example of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Murali Vijay to prove his point.

“I remember last year in South Africa Bhuvneshwar Kumar picked up a lot of wickets in the first Test, he really swung the ball but he was dropped for the next Test. Murali Vijay too I believe should have been given a longer run.

“Selection has to be in such a way that the confidence of the player is not down. I mean there may be communication inside the dressing room which we are certainly not aware,” he added.

News Cricket

Babar Azam is capable of scoring 200 in ODIs - Shahid Afridi

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 12:00 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Babar Azam scored a magnificent ton in the second ODI of the series against Sri Lanka. The right hand batsman was in full flow and became the fastest Asian batsman to complete 11 tons in one-day internationals.

He was also the highest run-scorer in the recently concluded T20 Blast in England. Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi is mighty impressed with the young batsman.

“I say to Babar Azam I want you to play long innings and you are not just a 50 runs type player, rather you are capable of scoring 100, 150 or 200. You are the backbone of the team and a consistent performer for Pakistan” said Afridi as quoted by Pakistan journalist Saj Sadiq in his tweet.

Meanwhile, Babar has credited England's county circuit for his exceptional form.

“The time I spent in the county game this season made a big difference,” Babar Azam said after the second ODI. “There was a lot I learned there; I went after just a week’s rest at the end of the World Cup. I played 14 matches against quality opposition, and that helped quite a lot.”

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma is the real GOAT - Yuzvendra Chahal

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 11:57 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat. Sharma and Agarwal, India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017, took the hosts to 91-0 at lunch in 30 overs.

Vernon Philander (0-34) was impressive with the new ball but couldn't claim a wicket.

The openers batted slowly through the first hour but picked up pace thereafter. Sharma reached his half-century off 84 balls before lunch. Offspinner Dane Piedt (0-43) went for more than six runs per over.

India scored 111 runs in the afternoon session.

Rohit close friend Yuzvendra Chahal posted a picture of the Indian opener and wrote: "Real G.O.A.T".

Feature Cricket

A classy player will excel in any format

Partab Ramchand Updated: 3 October, 2019, 11:36 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

You can’t hide class. A classy player will excel in any situation, any position in the batting order and in any format. Rohit Sharma emphasized this on Wednesday. Going in to bat he was clearly under tremendous pressure and it mattered little that he has been around for a dozen years at the international level. He was asked to do a specialist job for the first time in the traditional format of the game, his record in Test cricket was erratic and there was so much talk about him being pushed up the order with the experts weighing the pros and cons. Moreover he was up against two bowlers Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada who had dismissed him three times each mainly for low scores in Tests.

Besides the obvious class and skill, technique and experience you need nerves of steel to come good under these circumstances and Rohit showed that when it comes to temperament he is second to none. Hailing from the Bombay school of batting he should have been a natural for Test cricket. But somehow batting in the middle order he often flattered only to deceive and his approach must have been frustrating for his backers who always knew he was a class act and there was no reason why he should not translate his great deeds in ODIs to the traditional format. They believed that he had it in him to succeed in Test cricket but a series of low scores – particularly abroad – raised a lot of doubts as to his capabilities. No less a personality than Ian Chappell had predicted great things for Rohit when he saw him for the first time on the tour of Australia in 2007-08. The former Australian captain too was left wondering why he was not successful in Test cricket when he had the game for it.

Well, now we have the answer. Rohit was destined for greatness at the top of the order and not lower down. The closest parallel would be Virender Sehwag who like Rohit started his Test career with a hundred on debut in the middle order and then was asked to open since he was too good a player to be left out but as the middle order had the houseful board firmly stuck on it – Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – he was pushed to open the innings in England in 2002. He made such a success of it that this is where he stayed for the rest of his career running up an average of 50 and hitting two triple hundreds.

Rohit’s success means that the top order is well served with Mayank Agarwal too coming good, Shubman Gill waiting in the wings while Prithvi Shaw will be available hopefully soon. But the key figure now will always be Rohit who bids fair to become another Sehwag. He has certainly started on the right note.

News Cricket

I was preparing for 2 years to open in Tests – Rohit Sharma

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 10:57 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa on Wednesday.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President's XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes. Mayank Agarwal also turned on the aggression, reaching 84 not out with 11 fours and two sixes as South Africa failed to break through in its 59.1 overs.

"I was told in West Indies (about opening in this series). I was prepared for the past two years. It's about mentally training your mind more than anything else," said Sharma. "I prefer opening the innings and going out to bat without thinking too much. I was very clear in my mind about how I wanted to bat."

He thanked the team management for providing him with the opportunity to open the innings.

"I wanted to take the opportunity and that's why I made the management aware of it. I am grateful to them for providing me with the opportunity and I am happy I could score runs," Rohit told reporters.

News Cricket

I urge other teams to come and play in Pakistan – Lahiru Thirimanne

Staff Writer Updated: 3 October, 2019, 10:18 AM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Gunathilaka anchored Sri Lanka to a healthy total by featuring in three half-century stands.

Gunathilaka added 88 runs for the second-wicket stand with captain Lahiru Thirimanne (36) before adding further 50 runs with Angelo Perera (13) _ one of the three changes Sri Lanka had made from the second ODI.

But the innings got the real momentum when Gunathilaka put on a better than run a ball 74 runs with debutante wicketkeeper-batsman Minod Bhanuka (36).

Gunathilaka reached his second ODI century off 100 balls when he drove left-arm fast bowler Usman Shinwari to deep point for a single.

Pakistan got a chance to dismiss Gunathilaka but Haris dropped a sitter at point before Mohammad Amir (3-50) had the left-hander clean bowled off a full pitched delivery.

But Dasun Shanaka (43 off 24 balls), who scored a half century in the second ODI on Monday, took charge in the last six overs as Pakistan was let down by sloppy ground fielding.

Wahab Riaz (1-81) was smashed for 37 runs in his last three overs with Shanaka hitting four boundaries and two sixes off the left-arm seamer. Wahab finally deceived Shanaka off a slower last delivery and had him caught at extra cover of the last delivery.

Both teams will now compete in three Twenty20s at Lahore, starting from Saturday.

It is the first time since Sri Lanka's team bus was attacked in Lahore in 2009 that a foreign team is conducting a two-week tour of Pakistan.

Major teams have avoided the country since the ambush that killed eight people and injured several players.

“I am really proud of my team, they fought hard and scored 297, but (in bowling) we didn’t execute our plans in the first 10-15 overs,” Sri Lanka captain Lahiru Thirimanne said.

“It’s very exciting to be here, my first time in Pakistan and I encourage other teams to come and play here,” he added.

News Cricket

Rohit Sharma shines as Test opener, scores ton in first innings against South Africa

AP Updated: 2 October, 2019, 2:10 PM IST

HIGHLIGHT

Rohit Sharma overcame a nervous start to stroke his first century in his new role as an opener as India reached 202 without loss in 59 overs on the first day of the test series against South Africa.

Opening the innings in a test for the first time, Sharma hit 5 sixes and 12 boundaries and was unbeaten on 115 from 174 balls at the time of penning down. Mayank Agarwal was batting on 84 not out.

It's the first test since Sunil Gavaskar and Ramnath Parkar paired up against England in 1972-73 that India has selected two fresh openers in a home test match.

The new duo appeared to be unsure at the crease in the early overs when Sharma struggled against Vernon Philander (0-19), who used the new ball to good effect and hit a brilliant length outside off.

Sharma played and missed a couple of times as he worked hard to counter the little movement Philander generated. At the other end, Kagiso Rabada (0-16) tested Agarwal with some short bowling but without success.

India made slow progress in the first hour, scoring only 37 runs off 15 overs.

The South Africans introduced spin in the ninth over via left-armer Keshav Maharaj (0-26). With spinners operating in tandem after the drinks' break, the openers found their rhythm and opened up. Sharma, in particular, changed gears quickly and smashed Maharaj for a six.

He hit a second six off Dane Piedt (0-20), who also conceded a six to Agarwal as India upped the scoring rate and took 54 runs in the second hour of play.

Sharma and Agarwal, India's ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017.