The Proteas all but crumbled under the pressure of a hefty triple-century alliance between openers Mayank Agarwal and Rohit Sharma on day two of the first Test in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.
The tourists strode to 324-1 at lunch at the Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium, where Sharma and Agarwal were in imperious form. The former collected 138 not out to the latter’s 176 during a hefty 317-run alliance inside 82 overs.
There have been more than 2,300 Tests since 1877’s introduction, but just 75 300-plus partnerships. This was the second highest between India and South Africa. The veteran Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis had shared 340 in Nagpur nine years ago.
The dominant Sharma, opening the batting in Test cricket for the first time, eventually fell two runs short of bettering the career-best 177 collected against the West Indies in Kolkata six years ago.
Spinner Keshav Maharaj, who has bowled a marathon 35 of the 88 overs, removed the near double centurion, eventually finding some marginal turn to afford wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock a relatively straightforward stumping.
Fellow spinners Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy, meanwhile, have been entirely ineffective on an evidently tame pitch. Their collective 19 overs have cost over 100 runs.
India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada.
Photo: Gallo Images