India v South Africa: ton-up Mayank Agarwal puts hosts on top in second Test

Hosts reach 273-3 on opening day in Pune, fast bowler Kagiso Rabada fights lone battle for Proteas

India's Mayank Agarwal, left, celebrates scoring a century with captain Virat Kohli during the second cricket test match between India and South Africa in Pune, India, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
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Opener Mayank Agarwal hit his second successive century as India reached 273-3 at stumps against South Africa on the opening day of the second Test in Pune.

Agarwal scored a double century in the first Test in Visakhapatnam and took that form into the second Test, surviving a testing opening burst from South African quicks on a green surface before opening up to reach three figures. Agarwal was out for 108, having faced 195 deliveries with 16 fours and two sixes.

Virat Kohli was unbeaten on 63 and Ajinkya Rahane on 18 when bad light ended play with 4.5 overs remaining.

Agarwal hit left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj for successive sixes to reach the nineties. He was caught at first slip off pacer Kagiso Rabada (3-48) who was the only successful South African bowler of the day.

The ball was nipping around on Thursday with floodlights on for much of the final session but Kohli and Rahane kept South Africa at bay. Kohli hit 10 fours during his unbeaten 105-ball innings and brought up his 24th Test fifty.

Agarwal, who put on 138 runs for the second wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (58), became only the second opener after Virender Sehwag to score back-to-back Test hundreds against South Africa.

"I am very happy to get back-to-back hundreds," Agarwal was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "The team is in a good position. Opening the innings is about mental discipline. 450-500 would be a good first innings total to put pressure on South Africa."

South Africa's Kagiso Rabada, left, celebrates with teammates the dismissal of India's Mayank Agarwal during the second cricket test match between India and South Africa in Pune, India, Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)
Kagiso Rabada, left, was the only successful South African bowler. AP

"There were periods where I was getting boundaries very easily, there were periods where they bowled very good lines and were testing the bouncer as well," he added.

In the opening session, Rohit Sharma was caught behind for 14 before Agarwal and Pujara regained control. Pujara hit nine fours and a six en route his 22nd half-century.

The South Africans hoped to unsettle India on a true surface with pace but that ploy didn't work. Fast bowler Anrich Nortje gave away 60 runs from 13 overs.

However, the right-arm quick generated good pace to keep the batsmen on their toes. Nortje crossed the 150kph mark on a number of occasions in the opening spell and topped 152kph.

But there is hope for South Africa. Given the overcast conditions, if they can snare a few early wickets on Friday, they can still restrict India to under 400. And then it would be game on.

India had made one change to their playing XI, bringing in fast bowler Umesh Yadav in place of middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari.