Rohit Sharma enjoyed a superb start to life as an opener in Test cricket as he remained unbeaten on 115 on the opening day of the first Test against South Africa in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
On a rain-affected opening day, Rohit, 32, made the most of a flat deck to become the fourth Indian batsman to score a century in his first innings as a Test opener.
Rohit added 202 runs for the first wicket with Mayank Agarwal, who was batting on 84 when bad light and then rain brought an early close to play after 59.1 overs.
Rohit also became the first Indian batsman, and eighth overall, to score a century as opener in all three formats.
After a successful day, Rohit said opening the innings is something that comes naturally to him and that allowed him to be in the right frame of mind for the first Test.
"I think it suits my game," Rohit was quoted as saying by AFP. "Just wear the pads and go in to bat. I don't like the waiting game.
"You know the bowlers who are bowling with the new ball, so the game plan is easier for you... At number six, the ball is reversing, field placement is different and you need to keep all those things in mind."
The limited-overs star reached his fourth Test ton in the afternoon session with a single off debutant Senuran Muthusamy. He hit five sixes and 12 fours during his 174-ball knock.
"Opening the batting is a different ball game in red-ball cricket. Of course mentally you have to train your mind more than anything else," the Mumbai batsman said. "You have to challenge yourself to play the new ball and take the game forward."
Agarwal, playing his fifth Test, reached his fourth half-century with a six off spinner Keshav Maharaj. The two batsman hit a combined 23 fours and seven sixes.
"We wanted to use our feet and get closer to the ball and then obviously those are my shots that I play and I wanted to back myself and back my game," said Rohit.
While the Indian dressing room was all smiles after cashing in on a batsman-friendly pitch, it was a tough day for South Africa. The Proteas’ Indian-origin spinner Muthusamy said that even though it was a difficult outing for the team, he enjoyed making his debut in India.
"It is really special. My forefathers are from south of India in Tamil Nadu," said Muthusamy.
"But I am firmly South African. I am quite a few generations down the line. Unfortunately I don't speak Tamil, I am a thoroughbred South African."
The Proteas are in a rebuilding phase with veterans like Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn not in the picture anymore. And while the transition process didn’t start off well, Muthusamy is confident South Africa can fightback on the second day.
"Obviously a tough day in the office. Sharma and Agarwal batted really nicely, we have to put in the hard yards tomorrow and hopefully comeback stronger," he said.
"There is a reason it is called Test cricket... it is not easy, it's tough. Some of the world's best players are playing in the opposition. I have just learnt from the first day, you got be competing every ball. Just hang in there, plug away."
India are looking for a record 11th Test series victory at home.