Rahul century puts India on top in Centurion

By Sports Desk December 26, 2021

A century from KL Rahul helped India take charge of the first Test in South Africa as the tourists closed day one on 272-3 at SuperSport Park.

After Virat Kohli won the toss and chose to bat, Rahul led the way with a classy innings as Lungi Ngidi (3-45) was the only man to take any wickets.

Rahul spent 12 overs in the 90s before finally reaching three figures and the opener was still there on 122 at stumps.

The stand-in vice-captain and Mayank Agarwal (60) saw India through to lunch on 83-0 as the hosts struggled to get anything out of a flat track in Centurion, ultimately putting on an opening partnership of 117, India's first century opening stand in South Africa since 2010.

However, after waiting over 40 overs for the first wicket, Ngidi claimed two in as many balls by trapping Agarwal lbw after a successful review, before Cheteshwar Pujara was caught by Keegan Petersen at short leg off the next delivery after he got thick inside edge onto his thigh pad.

It was not a sign of things to come though as Kohli came to the crease and added another 82 with Rahul before edging Ngidi to Wiaan Mulder at first slip for 35.

Taking that key wicket also failed to spark South Africa into life, though, as Ajinkya Rahane carried on where Agarwal and Kohli had left off, upping the tempo as India added 115 for the loss of just one wicket in the final session.

Rahul and Rahane (40 not out) ended day one on an unbroken partnership of 73 to put India in a strong position.

Proteas toil in the field

It was an admittedly bad toss to lose for Dean Elgar, but he will still have surely been expecting more than one of his bowlers to get their name in the wicket column on the opening day of the series.

Ngidi worked hard for his three wickets, but Kagiso Rabada (0-51), debutant Marco Jansen (0-61), Mulder (0-49) and Keshav Maharaj (0-58) rarely troubled the India batters.

Patience rewarded for Rahul

To go unbeaten through the first day of a Test match is always an impressive feat, but it was the way Rahul built his innings that was particularly noteworthy.

The 29-year-old took few risks, especially when closing in on three figures, and has now registered a Test hundred against every team he has played at least two games against (Australia, England, Sri Lanka, West Indies and South Africa).

He has faced 248 balls, and might will look to make more hay while the sun shines in Centurion on day two.

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