Record-breaking Rohit Sharma makes his opening mark

Along with Sunil Gavaskar, Sharma is now only the second Indian opener to score a hundred in both innings of a Test match.

Photo: BCCI

It was a record-breaking day for India's new Test opener Rohit Sharma.

After his century in the first innings, the 32-year-old followed it up with another hundred on the penultimate day of the first Test against South Africa at Visakhapatnam.

En-route to his 149-ball 127 he hit 10 fours and 7 maximums, taking his sixes' tally in the match to 13 - the most by a batsman in a match - breaking the previous record set by Pakistan's Wasim Akram when he smashed 12 sixes against Zimbabwe in 1996. It cleared the previous Indian record by five, upstaging Navjot Singh Sidhu's eight against Sri Lanka in 1994.

An ARCS Andheri pick from Season 1 of T20 Mumbai, Sharma now holds the Indian record of hitting the most number of sixes in a match in all three formats of the game.

"Hitting sixes is his strength, he has done very well in white-ball cricket. He is known for his shots and the way he hits sixes is incredible. As a Test batsman who wants to improve his ODI and T20 cricket, obviously there is a lot to learn from him especially when it comes to hitting the ball out of the park, which I obviously admire and will obviously have a chat with him when I am playing the shorter format," said Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored 81.

Sharma brought up his fifty in a brisk 72 balls, forged a 161-run partnership with Pujara for the second wicket, reached his ton in 133 deliveries, hit three successive sixes off Dane Piedt and ballooned his average from 39.62 before the match to 44.95 after his two innings.

"When I had gone to bat and when I saw Rohit playing his shots, I thought that we were scoring at a good pace," Pujara observed. "The only reason why I was able to take extra time while batting was because of the way Rohit was batting and playing his shots. He played especially well in the first innings but in the second innings, the situation was a bit different, the wicket was a little different.

"No other batsman could have played such shots on this wicket and that partnership between lunch and tea was very crucial and our communication was quite good. It was a joy to watch him bat from the non-striker's end."

Along with the legendary Sunil Gavaskar, also a League Commissioner of T20 Mumbai, Sharma is only the second Indian opener to score a hundred in both innings of a Test match.

He is also the first to score two tons in his debut Test as an opener and his match tally of 303 runs is also the most by a batsman opening for the first time, eclipsing Tillakaratne Dilshan's 215 against New Zealand in 2009.

India declared the second innings at 323/4, leaving the Proteas a target of 395 and eventually handed the home team a victory by 203 runs.

"Thanks to everyone for giving me that opportunity but the focus was on winning the match," said Sharma, after being named Man of the Match. "The communication to me happened a couple of years ago that I might open at some stage. So even when I wasn't playing Tests, I was batting against the new balls in the nets.

"No matter what ball you play, red or white, if you are starting the innings, you need to be careful... That's what my game is all about, a bit of caution and a bit of aggression. The whole focus was to go out there and have fun."

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