India Vs South Africa 1ST Test: Brilliant Unbeaten Century By KL Rahul Puts India In A Strong Position!

India got into a strong position on the first day of the 1st Boxing Day Test against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion today, India at 272/3 at stumps off the full 90 overs. This is thanks to a technically sound unbeaten century crafted by opener and the stand-in vice-captain KL Rahul (122 not out in 248 balls) who first built up a 117-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal (60), then an 82-run one with captain Virat Kohli (35) and an unbeaten 4th wicket partnership of 73 runs with Ajinkya Rahane (40 not out), batting out the full day on a pacy and bouncy pitch most suited for fast bowlers. Other than the luckless Cheteshwar Pujara who is literally playing for his place with players like Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari in reserve and who is without a ton in his last 43 innings got out for a first-ball duck, all batsmen so far have contributed well. For South Africa all the three wickets were captured by Lungi Ngidi. The host team must be sorely missing the services of their strike fast bowler Anrich Nortje who was out due to injury with all-rounder Marco Jansen making his debut in his place. The lone spinner Keshav Maharaj too is wicketless so far.


The selection of the India playing eleven has been judicious, mixing experience with promising youngsters which is why Pujara and Rahane have been retained while having a foursome pace-battery preferring Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj to Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah coming back to the team. Ravichandran Ashwin is the lone spinner and his selection is also justified. Mayank Agarwal is spiritedly trying to make the best of his chances thanks to the regular Test vice-captain and opener Rohit Sharma being ruled out of the Test Series and earlier rested for home Test series against New Zealand. KL Rahul proves yet again that he is specially made for test cricket in whatever batting position he is required. Interestingly, this is the first away Test Series for head coach of Team India, Rahul Dravid, once considered the great wall of Indian cricket. 


Earlier, captain Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat first. He looked to be in good nick despite the recent split-captaincy controversy. In this same venue Virat scored the highest ever individual score of 153 by a visiting cricketer in his only away test series against South Africa during 2017-18, and India actually lost that test match losing the 3-match series 2-1. In fact, the lone victory registered by his team in that visit is only the third by any India team. India is yet to win a test series against South Africa in South Africa. India looks to be in a sound position at the moment to force a win, if they go past 400 runs tomorrow with Rishabh Pant, Ashwin and even Thakur to follow. Winning the toss and the batsmen applying themselves well could definitely lead to conquering literally the last frontier. The pacy pitch of SuperSport Park is surely going to get worse with uneven bounce from the 3rd or 4th day onward. However, the South Africa pace-battery is yet to deliver true to their potential. We are in for some absorbing cricket ahead. 


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