Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, at least, was set apart from the Proteas’ familiar struggles with the ball on day one of the second Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
The hosts climbed to 273-3, with captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 63 and 18, respectively.
Rabada struck shortly before the tea break and again prior to the close of play. He removed half-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara with slight movement away, with slip fielder Faf du Plessis at hand to pouch the edge. That ended a dominant 138-run alliance alongside Agarwal.
Agarwal’s century, which featured 16 fours and two sixes, was eventually ended by steep bounce from Rabada. He again combined with Du Plessis in the slip cordon to orchestrate the key dismissal.
Rabada had succeeded in similar fashion during the first session, too, with opener Rohit Sharma the victim of extra carry and a sharp angle.
Fast bowler Anrich Nortje bowled too full throughout the day, as Agarwal in particular comfortably capitalised with a series of fours on the drive. Specialist spinners Keshav Maharaj and Senuran Muthusamy were largely ineffective.
Kohli had won the toss and opted to bat first. This is his 50th Test as captain. Only Test retiree Mahendra Singh Dhoni has more.
India replaced batsman Hanuma Vihari with fast bowler Umesh Yadav, while the tourists dropped spinner Dane Piedt for debutant Nortje.
Last week’s 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam afforded India an early lead in the three-match series. That win was built on the back of a double-century from Agarwal.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Photo: Gallo Images