Rohit Sharma smashes milestones with another century against South Africa

Along with fellow Mumbaikar Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma made sure India were in control against South Africa.

Photo: BCCI

It was a day of milestones for Rohit Sharma after he scored another century on the shortened opening day of the third and final Test against South Africa at Ranchi on Saturday.

Electing to bat first, India were pushed on the back foot in the opening hour as they were left at 39/3 but Sharma kept his end steady and joined hands with Ajinkya Rahane to keep the innings stable.

"Both batted very well. When the innings started, there was a bit of moisture in the wicket," observed India batting coach Vikram Rathour. "The recovery was phenomenal."

The duo forged an unbeaten 185 run partnership, the highest stand for the fourth wicket against the Proteas surpassing the 178 between Virat Kohli and Rahane in the preceding Test played in Pune, before bad light stopped play early.

Continuing his rich vein of form, Rohit Sharma scored his third ton of the series becoming only the second Indian opener to do so after Sunil Gavaskar, who is now the league commissioner of T20 Mumbai.

Sharma, an ARCS Andheri pick from the inaugural season of T20 Mumbai, brought his fifty in 86 balls with four off a straight drive towards long-off and his hundred in the same direction from a six off Dane Piedt in just 130 deliveries.

He raced from fifty to his ton in just 44 balls and his fourth six of the innings not only brought his hundred but also his 2,000 runs in Test cricket.

Earlier, his maximum off Piedt also broke the record for the most number of sixes by a batsman in a series, surpassing West Indies' Shimron Hetmyer tally of 15 against Bangladesh last year. The Indian record was held by Harbhajan Singh, who had 14 sixes to his name against New Zealand in 2010.

In the first Test at Visakhapatnam, where he scored two centuries, Rohit Sharma had hit 13 sixes to set a new record for the most number of maximums scored in a single match.

His 434 runs in the series are also the most by an Indian in a series against South Africa, going past the 388 scored by Mohammad Azharuddin at home in 1996/97. Sharma ended the day on 117* (164b, 14x4s, 4x6s) at a strike rate of 71.34.

"He is such an experienced player," Rathour said of Sharma. "In Test cricket, you need to play through those tough spells. I think he's doing that well in this series. Once he's set, he's a phenomenal player, we all know that, he can really punish you."

Rahane, a North Mumbai Panthers batsman from Season 1 of T20 Mumbai, also made sure that the flow of runs was brisk with an unbeaten 83 (135b, 11x4s, 1x6).

"Anjikya showed great intent," Rathour said. "Whenever he bats with this intent, he looks like a really good player."

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