India were 71/3 at lunch on Day 1 of the third Test in Ranchi after South Africa pacers Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje troubled them in a fruitful bowling-friendlty first session on Saturday. India lost opener Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli cheaply with Rabada bowling a fiery spell first up to stop the hosts from getting off the blocks.
After India handed Shahbaz Nadeem his Test debut and opted to bat, Rabada bowled with his tail up and was rewarded immediately with the wicket of Agarwal, after the batsman had collected a couple of early boundaries. Rabada set him up nicely, bowling straight lines before getting one to move away – to which Agarwal poked and offered a catch to Dean Elgar at third slip.
Pujara, the new batsman faced eight balls, before the next one rapped him on the pads. Originally given not out by the umpire, South Africa went upstairs, and the decision was overturned with the ball hitting Pujara’s back leg stuck right in front of middle.
Rabada and Anrich Nortje peppered Kohli and Rohit Sharma with a few snorters outside off and peppered them with bounders. South Africa could have seen the back of Rohit when the Richard Illingworth raised his fingers to give the opener out, but a big inside edge gave Rohit a lifeline and he carried on.
It took Rohit 13 overs before he could score his first boundary – a pull that took his glove and went past the ropes – but once the deadlock was broken, he four more in the next six, including a couple of crisp pull shots, the ball dropped marginally short. In the last over before lunch, Rohit brought out his trademark pull shot again to clear the rope.
Kohli, having struck a couple of boundaries, endured a rough call. Nortje pitched one up, which moved after hitting the deck and rapped the India captain on the pads. A huge appeal followed and Nigel Long was quick to raise his finger. However, as per the replay, the ball did just about enough to clip the leg stump, much to the amusement of Kohli and to give Nortje his maiden Test wicket. Rahane faced 20 balls for 11, including a boundary and added 32 off 45 with Rohit.
Brief Scores: India 71/3 (Rohit Sharma 38*; Kagiso Rabada 2-15, Anrich Nortje 1-28) vs South Africa