Rohit Sharma labelled his maiden Test double century as "probably the most challenging" innings he has played.

India took complete control of the third and final Test against South Africa on day two in Ranchi, with Rohit scoring 212 from 225 deliveries to help the hosts to 497-9 declared, the Proteas reaching stumps on 9-2 in reply.

Rohit, who had three double hundreds in ODIs but never in the five-day format, faced a nervy wait after lunch was called while he was on 199.

The 32-year-old, who has excelled at the top of the order having endured a stop-start Test career to date, then saw out a maiden over upon resumption before finally getting over the line with an excellent pull for six off Lungi Ngidi. 

Asked about his wait, Rohit said: "That's the nature of the game. You can't do anything about it. I wouldn't say it's frustrating. It's just the laws of the game. 

"The time [a session] has to finish, it has to finish on that time.

"From my side, I wasn't thinking about that at all. Because I knew the time will come and whenever it's supposed to happen, it will happen. I was just trying to be positive, think positive at that particular time. 

"I know it can be frustrating at times but there's nothing you can do about it. I just went back happy [at lunch], you know, 199 not out, I'd take that any day."

Rohit now has six centuries in Test cricket but conceded this was the toughest innings he has played.

"I haven't played much, I have played only 30 Test matches," he added. 

"Yes, in terms of what was thrown at me in this particular Test match, I would definitely say that it was probably the most challenging one."

India had stumbled to 39-3 on day one before Rohit was joined by Ajinkya Rahane, with the duo putting on an outstanding fourth-wicket stand of 267.

"We've seen Ajinkya for so many years, the way his Test career has progressed, and whenever the team has been in a difficult situation, he's come and rescued us," Rohit said. 

"This isn't something he's done just once or twice, he's done it in many innings. This shows how strong he is, mentally, and how much hunger he has, to be able to steer the team out of bad situations.

"We've seen it outside India, we've seen it in India as well, so Ajinkya's Test graph, it's climbing one step at a time, and there can't be anything better for the team, because if your middle order is strong, whatever situation comes, you're confident that one guy will always put his hand up and take the team forward."

Rohit Sharma completed his first Test double hundred and Ajinkya Rahane added a century of his own as India moved into complete control of the third Test in Ranchi.

Starting day two on 224-3, India piled on the runs to declare on 497-9 and then reduced South Africa to 9-2 before bad light prematurely halted Sunday's action.

Rohit rapidly progressed his overnight total of 117 and reached a double century for the first time in the longest form of the game, having previously done so three times in ODIs.

His total had reached 212 from 255 deliveries when he finally fell to Kagiso Rabada, while Rahane moved from 83 to complete his 11th Test hundred with an innings of 115.

Bad light meant only five overs of South Africa's reply were possible, but that was enough for India to put the tourists in complete disarray after openers Dean Elgar (0) and Quinton de Kock (4) were removed.

Captain Faf du Plessis (1 not out) and Zubayr Hamza (0no) will return to the crease on Monday with their side right up against it in their efforts to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash.

The fourth-wicket partnership between Rohit and Rahane had reached 267 before Rahane finally fell shortly before lunch, caught behind after some sharp turn earned George Linde his first Test wicket, the debutant then going on to claim figures of 4-133.

Rohit smashed 28 fours along with six maximums, one of which got him to his double ton after he went into lunch tantalisingly close on 199. His brilliant effort came to an end when he was caught at fine leg when trying to take on Rabada (3-85).

Ravindra Jadeja scored 51 and Umesh Yadav whacked five sixes in an explosive 31 from just 10 balls as useful partnerships right down the India order ensured the hosts were just shy of 500 before Virat Kohli opted to declare.

Mohammed Shami dismissed Elgar for a duck with only the second ball of the innings in a dreadful start for the Proteas.

De Kock followed in the next over when he was unable to cope with a short ball from Yadav, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha claiming his second catch as India piled on the pressure.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour says having an in-form Rohit Sharma at the top of the order changes the dynamic of the India side after he made another century on day one of the third Test against South Africa.

Rohit was unbeaten on 117 and Ajinkya Rahane 83 not out when stumps were drawn due to bad light, with India on 224-3 as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash after being reduced to 39-3 in Ranchi on Saturday.

The selectors promoted Rohit to open for the first time in the longest format in the series against the Proteas and the 32-year-old has grasped his opportunity, making three hundreds.

Rathour has been impressed with the application Rohit has shown following his promotion and always felt there should be a place for the dangerous right-hander in all three formats.

"He is such an experienced player I don't think you needed to do anything with his technique, the only adjustment I think he had to make was his game plans," said Rathour

"In Test cricket you need to play through those tough spells and I think he's doing that really well in this series.

"If he can keep doing that, once he's set, then he is a phenomenal player - we all know that - he can really punish you. He needed to make that mental adjustment to his game plans and he's done that well. 

"I always said he's too good a player not to be playing in any format, so I think it was a good call to get him to open and with the amount of runs scored of course, I think he has settled the issue for the time being.

"Somebody with his experience and the kind of cricket he plays, if he starts coming good for you at the top of the order that changes everything for the Indian dynamic - even when you are touring."

 

Rohit Sharma made his third century of the series and Ajinkya Rahane was also closing in on a hundred as India hit back after a poor start on day one of the third Test against South Africa in Ranchi.

Kagiso Rabada took two early wickets in a magnificent new-ball spell and India - who gave a debut to Shahbaz Nadeem - were 39-3 when Anrich Nortje removed Virat Kohli for 12.

That was as good as it got for a Proteas side that included five changes - with Heinrich Klaasen and George Linde handed Test bows - as an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 185 between Rohit (117 not out) and Rahane (83no) put India in control.

Rohit punished the Proteas attack with a combination of exquisite timing and power in his new role at the top of the order and Rahane played with great fluency in a classy knock.

India were 224-3 when bad light brought play to a premature end as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash.

Rabada (2-54) roared in to raise South Africa's spirits after their hammering in Pune last week, the in-form Mayank Agarwal (10) edging the paceman to Dean Elgar at third slip off the final ball of the fifth over.

Cheteshwar Pujara soon followed without scoring when he was struck on the back pad and given leg before wicket, with Rabada then denied a third wicket as Rohit overturned an lbw decision.

Nortje claimed the huge scalp of Kohli, who made a Test-best 254 not out last week, by getting one to nip back in and strike the skipper bang in front.

Rohit and Rahane saw India through to 71-3 at lunch and played with great freedom as the runs flowed in the afternoon session, Rabada twice taken for 13 in an over.

The aggressive Rohit and Rahane attacked Dane Piedt and the opener reached three figures for the sixth time in the longest format by disdainfully dispatching the spinner for one of four sixes in his imperious knock.

Rahane also lofted Piedt down the ground for six, while Linde bowled with reasonable control, but the breakthrough was not forthcoming and only 58 overs had been bowled when stumps were drawn under dark clouds.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis joked he is considering sending another player to the toss for the third Test against India as he aims to correct his side's recent woes.

The Proteas are 2-0 down in the series after suffering heavy defeats in Visakhapatnam and Pune.

With the three-match series already lost, South Africa head to Ranchi looking to restore some pride as a frustrating 2019 draws closer towards a conclusion.

Du Plessis cited winning the toss as a crucial factor but, with South Africa having lost their last nine coin-flips on Asian soil going back to 2015, failing to win any of the subsequent Tests – the Proteas' skipper conceded he might have to send out a substitute in order to change their luck.

"We've felt that we've done it [compete] in stages, more probably in the first Test, so hoping that we can start with the toss tomorrow," Du Plessis told reporters.

"Probably I will [send] somebody else to the toss, I'll give you that, because my record so far hasn't been great, and then, yeah, if we put big runs on the board in the first innings, that's where we need to start."

Du Plessis also acknowledged his side – who lost the first Test by 203 runs and the second by an innings – can only regain confidence by taking the fight to India.

"It is tough when you're losing," he said.

"For us, we're very, very competitive people, so it does take a dent out of your confidence, but international sport is supposed to be hard, and the guys who've stayed at the top for a long time will tell you that it comes with ups and it comes with downs, personally and from a team point of view.

"So it's important for us to understand that we have to fight our way out of these last two losses. We can't expect things just to happen."

South Africa's task has been made harder by the absence of batsman Aiden Markram, who will miss the final Test due to a wrist injury he sustained while "lashing out at a solid object" following his second-innings dismissal in Pune.

West Indies batting legend Brian Lara and Indian great Sachin Tendulkar will take up their bats once again during the Road Safety World Series in India next year.

Aiden Markram will miss South Africa's third Test against India with a fractured wrist sustained when the opener "lashed out at a solid object".

The 25-year-old was dismissed for a pair in Pune as the Proteas crashed to an innings-and-137-run loss in the second Test last week.

India claimed an unassailable 2-0 lead in the best-of-three-match series and Markram will not be available for the dead rubber having suffered a fracture when he struck an object in frustration at his poor performance.

"It's sad to be going home on this note and I completely understand what I've done is wrong and take full accountability for it," Markram said.

"It's unacceptable in a Proteas environment and to let the team down is what hurts me the most. I've learned a lot from this and the other players I'm sure have learned from it as well.

"We understand in sport that emotions run high and sometimes the frustration gets the better of you as it did for me, but like I said, it's no excuse. I've taken full responsibility for it, I have apologised to the team and hopefully I can make it up to them and the people of South Africa soon."

Markram made a combined 46 in the two innings of the first Test, meaning he ends the series with an average of 11.

South Africa have not called up a replacement for the third Test, which begins on Saturday.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe has issued a rallying cry and declared these are "exciting times" just a day after the Proteas suffered a record Test defeat to India.

India won by an innings and 137 runs - their biggest margin of victory against South Africa - in Pune on Sunday to wrap up the series with a match to spare.

Virat Kohli's side took the opening match by 203 runs and the tourists will have to show a vast improvement in order to avoid a whitewash in Ranchi.

Moroe has called for fans to back Faf du Plessis' side in a transitional period in a new era following the departure of head coach Ottis Gibson and the retirement of key players.

"It was always going to be a difficult challenge taking on the top team in the world – certainly under their own conditions – in India at a time when we have introduced a new team structure," Moroe said.

"In the past two years we have had to bid farewell to some of the great names of international cricket such as AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn who between them played nearly 450 Test matches for the Proteas.

"You don't replace that kind of experience overnight and we need to give a new generation time to settle.

"These things take time and I am confident that we will already see improvement in our next Test series when England are our visitors during the festive season. I am sure that our supporters will rally behind them on home turf. 

"These are, in fact, exciting times for South African cricket with new names and faces coming to the fore. Our talent pipeline has produced the likes of Aiden Markram, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Zubayr Hamza over the last few years and our development systems are clearly in good shape.

"There is a huge incentive on our young players to put pressure on the incumbents. There is nothing like good competition for places that brings out the best in all."

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis would love to see his team demonstrate the ravenous hunger for runs that Virat Kohli showed for India in the one-sided second Test.

The India skipper set the platform for a dominant victory by making 254 not out in the first innings, as the home team piled up an intimidating 601-5.

After India won the first Test by 203 runs in Visakhapatnam, South Africa were thumped this time by an innings and 137 runs in Pune to surrender the series after being bowled out for 275 and 189.

It was South Africa's heaviest Test defeat to India.

Du Plessis used seven bowlers in an effort to unsettle Kohli on the first two days of the match, but to no avail.

"The way India batted, and especially Virat getting a 250, that takes a lot of mental toughness to put a score like that on the first innings," Du Plessis said.

Kohli's score was his highest in Tests and it took him through the 12,000-run barrier in the five-day game.

"It's trying to stop him," said Du Plessis. "We saw it in the first Test as well [with other India batsmen]. As captain you try to think of ways, how you can change little things, field placements or bowling placements, but he was too good in this Test match.

"All the questions, and all the stuff we threw at him, he had answers for. [He was] just relentless and sticking to his game, and for me what really stuck out from that was a hunger for runs.

"You could see they were determined to score big and not get tired and satisfied of getting a hundred and stopping. It was great value for us as batters – when you're on top of your game, making sure you're really hungry and making sure you can put in big performances that can affect the outcome of the game."

Du Plessis suggested South Africa had found the Kohli experience exhausting.

"Two days in the field, it can wear you down," said Du Plessis. "Since then, it was trying to play catch-up and with a very good India bowling attack. And these conditions, they don’t give you much and you need to be on top of your best game.

"If you're not, you're going to be found wanting, and we were found wanting in this Test match."

South Africa will expect more from their attack in the third and final Test, starting in Ranchi on Saturday.

"All in all, I think India are deservedly Test series winners," said Du Plessis. "They are a very tough team to beat at home and their record speaks for itself. We weren't at our best, so we'll try to make sure we can improve for the next Test."

Virat Kohli turned his attention to securing a whitewash after India consigned South Africa to a record innings-and-137-run defeat on day four of the second Test to win the series.

The struggling tourists were all out for 189 in the final session on Sunday to suffer their heaviest Test loss to India after Kohli enforced the follow-on in Pune.

Umesh Yadav (3-22) and Ravindra Jadeja (3-52) capitalised on the tourists' shortcomings with the bat, while Ravichandran Ashwin took 2-45 after claiming 4-69 in the first innings.

Kohli laid the platform with a Test-best 254 not out and the captain is determined to make it 3-0 in Ranchi with an 11th consecutive home series win in the longest format already in the bag.

Asked about his side's run of series triumphs on home soil, the skipper said: "It's been nice, but looking at the larger picture, the Test Championship, every game has even more value.

"We're not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test, we're looking for a result again, and hopefully make it 3-0.

"Because these points are important, we understand that, with the Test Championship it's going to be very crucial, at all the stages, when we play away from home as well. And no one's going to relax at any stage, that's a guarantee."

Kohli says he would not have registered an astonishing seven double-centuries without taking an unselfish approach at the crease.

"I think it's getting the responsibility of being captain. If you go out planning a double-hundred, you will not get it. But if you go out planning playing five sessions for your team, invariably you cross that 200 mark as well." said Kohli.

"The mindset has always been to help the team as much as possible, play at the tempo the team requires you to, and in that process, big scores come. The mindset change is the only reason behind the big scores.

"Before that, I used to think from a personal point of view and put pressure on myself. But the moment you start thinking about the team, all the pressure goes away, and all you're thinking is how to contribute to the team's cause."

Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja took three wickets apiece as India consigned South Africa to a record innings-and-137-run defeat on day four in Pune to wrap up the Test series with one match to play.

Virat Kohli enforced the follow-on at the start of the penultimate day after the Proteas were bowled out for 275 in their first innings on Saturday in reply to 601-5 declared.

South Africa's shortcomings with the bat were exposed again on Sunday as they were dismissed for only 189, suffering their heaviest defeat to India in the longest format.

Umesh took 3-22 and Jadeja claimed 3-52, while Ravichandran Ashwin (2-45) also did damage as India sealed a record 11th consecutive series on home soil.

India will be out to secure a 3-0 whitewash when the third Test gets under way in Ranchi next Saturday.

 

Ravichandran Ashwin made a crucial breakthrough late on day three as India pressed home their advantage against South Africa in the second Test.

The Proteas started Saturday on 36-3 and were all out for 275 in their first innings by the close of play, still 326 runs behind the hosts in Pune.

It could have been worse for South Africa, but India's bowlers were frustrated by a magnificent 109-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj that spanned 259 balls.

But India ended the day on top after the impressive Ashwin (4-69) claimed two vital wickets in the final four overs of the day.

South Africa were on 271-8 until Ashwin dismissed Maharaj, who had batted with a sore shoulder for a career-best 72, before the spinner also accounted for number 11 Kagiso Rabada (2), leaving Philander stranded on 44 not out.

Pace bowler Umesh Yadav took 3-37, with India – who declared on 601-5 in their first innings - looking good for a victory that would seal the series.

With two days still to play, their next decision will be whether to enforce the follow-on. 

India captain Virat Kohli, who will make that call, followed up his double-hundred with the bat by taking an early catch on Saturday to remove nightwatchman Anrich Nortje off the bowling of Mohammed Shami (2-44) for 3.

South Africa were in disarray at 53-5 when Theunis de Bruyn was caught behind off Yadav for 30, with captain Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock left to steady the ship somewhat by combining for a quickfire 75.

Ashwin bowled De Kock for 31 before lunch, though, and Senuran Muthusamy (7) was out lbw to Ravindra Jadeja (1-81) in the third over after the interval.

Du Plessis (64) had reached his 21st Test half-century off just 64 balls but his pace slowed from there and, when Ashwin found his outside edge, the Proteas were poised for a collapse at 162-8.

However, Philander and Maharaj had other ideas with a disciplined, dogged partnership amid hot and humid conditions.

Maharaj aggravated his right shoulder – which had been injured while fielding on Friday – as he smacked Shami for four while on 17, but he bravely fought on to earn a first Test half-century in a 132-ball knock.

But Ashwin capped fine outing by having Maharaj caught by Rohit Sharma at leg slip and promptly trapping Rabada in front, with Philander unbeaten having faced 192 deliveries.

Mayank Agarwal saluted the "tremendous" Virat Kohli after the India captain made his highest Test score on a punishing day two for South Africa in Pune.

Kohli crafted 254 not out with support from Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Ravindra Jadeja (91) as India racked up a mammoth 601-5 declared on Friday.

The skipper had not reached three figures in the longest format this year, but posted a seventh double-century and also passed 7,000 Test runs with a masterclass before the tourists were reduced to 36-3 at stumps as India eye an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Agarwal, who scored a hundred on day one, hailed Kohli after he made the Proteas bowlers toil - hitting two sixes and 33 fours in a stunning knock.

"It was a top-class knock from him. To get 250 is no joke and the way he's batting is just tremendous." the opener said.

"The positivity he gets, the intent he gets is fabulous. His records and his scores and the way he's playing shows everything we all need to see."

Agarwal says the rapid rate in which Kohli and Jadeja scored during a fifth-wicket stand of 225 could prove to be vital.

He added: "It's put us in the driving seat and it's not just the amount of runs, it's the pace that the runs have come that has made a huge difference. It's giving us extra time, that extra session and a half that can become very crucial."

South Africa interim director Enoch Nkwe pointed the finger of blame at the seam bowlers at the end of a gruelling second day.

"We've only got ourselves to blame this morning. We thought the conditions were conducive to seam bowling, we just didn't hit our straps." Nkwe said.

"We bowled a little bit too wide and didn't test the Indian batters enough and when we do that we just allow the batters to get in and we need to learn tight lines for a longer period of time."

Virat Kohli made his highest Test score with a domineering unbeaten double-century as India piled on the runs before South Africa lost three wickets on a one-sided day two in Pune.

Kohli reached three figures for the first time in the longest format this year and went on to make his seventh Test double-century with the tourists toiling in the heat on Friday.

The India captain crafted a magnificent 254 not out that included two sixes and 33 fours, before declaring with his team on a mammoth 601-5, with Ravindra Jadeja (91) and Ajinkya Rahane (59) making half-centuries on a flat pitch.

Kohli passed 7,000 Test runs and was given a life when he edged Senuran Muthusamy to Faf du Plessis on 208 as the spinner over-stepped.

South Africa face a battle to avoid going 2-0 down in the three-match series after they were reduced to 36-3 at stumps, Umesh Yadav (2-16) and Mohammed Shami making inroads.

The Proteas were unable to claim a breakthrough in the morning session after India resumed on 273-3 and Kohli brought up his 26th Test hundred with an exquisite straight drive for four off Vernon Philander.

Rahane took a liking to the pace of Anrich Nortje as he accumulated runs steadily, reaching his half-century in the morning session before India took lunch in command on 356-3.

Kohli punched Kagiso Rabada for two glorious boundaries in an over but a fourth-wicket stand of 178 ended when Rahane was caught behind to become Keshav Maharaj's 100th victim in the longest format.

Rabada's frustration mounted as Jadeja joined Kohli to continue piling on the runs, the skipper moving on to 150 as the Proteas attack suffered.

Jadeja came in with a license to swing and did just that, the boundaries flowing with Kohli having some luck as he cut just past Du Plessis at first slip on more than one occasion.

Du Plessis held on to seemingly remove Kohli shortly after he had tickled Muthusamy around the corner to bring up his double-century, but the captain was given a reprieve as the left-arm tweaker's front foot was well over the line.

Jadeja treated the crowd to his sword celebration after dispatching Aiden Markram to the ropes twice in an over before both the all-rounder and Kohli clattered Maharaj for six with disdain.

Kohli had 250 to his name when he slapped Dean Elgar over midwicket for four and declared after Jadeja holed out attempting to hit Muthusamy for six.

Umesh then did damage with the new ball, trapping Markram leg before without score before Elgar played on and Temba Bavuma edged Shami's first ball behind to put South Africa deeper in the mire.

Mayank Agarwal continued his fine form as his century helped India take a commanding position at the end of day one of the second Test against South Africa.

Agarwal - who amassed 215 in the first innings of the first Test as India claimed a resounding win - hit 108 from 195 deliveries in Pune on Thursday.

He was ably supported by Cheteshwar Pujara (58) and India captain Virat Kohli (63 not out), as the hosts reached stumps on 273-3.

There was one bright spot for South Africa, with Kagiso Rabada taking all three of their wickets, although the paceman will need support if Faf du Plessis' side are to prevent India posting a huge total.

While Agarwal took some time to get into his stride, his partner Rohit Sharma was swiftly on the attack before his wicket fell when Rabada drew an edge that carried through to Quinton de Kock.

Three boundaries in one over saw Agarwal take the fight back to South Africa before lunch, however, and he brought up his fifty with a perfectly timed cut shot early in the afternoon session.

Pujara was looking equally as sharp at the other end, registering his half-century in style with two fours following a six.

The partnership ended when Rabada struck again, Pujara fishing at a wide, short delivery the he edged to Du Plessis.

Keshav Maharaj was smashed for two successive maximums as Agarwal moved on to 99 - India's opener steering Vernon Philander for a boundary to surpass 100 in the next over.

Agarwal's innings was halted by Du Plessis' smart catch from another Rabada delivery soon afterwards, though Kohli took up the mantle - scoring 26 off 19 balls to bring up another half-century and steer India into a strong position heading into day two.

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