Quinton de Kock's incredible 140 was only just enough as the Lucknow Super Giants edged to victory against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday, securing their place in the playoffs.

An astonishing contest came down to the last ball, and just as it looked as though KKR would reach the improbable target of 211, two wickets from the final two balls from Marcus Stoinis (3-23) sealed a dramatic two-run win for LSG.

De Kock and KL Rahul became only the fourth opening pair to bat first and go through an Indian Premier League innings without dismissal as they put on 210-0 from their 20 overs, the highest unbeaten opening partnership in IPL history.

The South African's score of 140 from 70 balls was the third-highest in IPL history, after Chris Gayle's 175 not out for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors India in 2013, and Brendon McCullum's 158 not out for KKR against RCB in 2008.

However, Rinku Singh's 40 from 14 balls looked to have put KKR on the verge of victory, needing just three from the final two deliveries, only for Rinku and then Umesh Yadav to both fall to Stoinis.

Rahul was steady in his 68 from 51 balls, but the fireworks came from De Kock, particularly near the end of the innings, hitting four sixes in the 19th over off the bowling of Tim Southee (0-57).

The Knight Riders' response could not have got off to a more contrasting start, with Venkatesh Iyer (0) and Abhijeet Tomar (4) both out early on to Mohsin Khan.

Nitish Rana's 44 from 22 balls showed some fight, before Shreyas Iyer (50 from 29) and Sam Billings (36 from 24) put their team in a position where victory actually looked possible, but the former spooned a Stoinis delivery into the air and into the waiting hands of Deepak Hooda just after reaching his half-century.

Rinku and Sunil Narine (21 not out) had one last go at reviving hope for KKR and very nearly managed it, only for Stoinis to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with the last two deliveries to secure a vital win for the Super Giants, sealing their place in the playoffs, while KKR miss out.

De Kock wows the crowd

The fans could not believe what they were seeing as De Kock fired the ball to all sides of the ground with almost every shot imaginable.

The 29-year-old hit 20 boundaries in all (10 sixes and 10 fours) and, having only scored 362 runs from his previous 13 innings in the IPL this season, nudged himself over 500 and into third-place behind Jos Buttler (627) and Rahul (527) on the leaderboard for most runs.

So near yet so far for Rinku

When Rinku arrived at the crease his team still needed 69 runs from 26 balls. When he went back to the pavilion having hit a Stoinis delivery to Evin Lewis for a tremendous catch, his team were only three from victory.

It wasn't to be, but his two fours and four sixes from just 15 balls along with Narine's 21 from seven gave their team hope when there had previously been very little.

Mohsin Khan starred with the ball and KL Rahul made another half-century as Lucknow Super Giants moved up to second in the Indian Premier League with a six-run defeat of Delhi Capitals on Sunday.

Rahul blasted 77 off 51 balls and Deepak Hooda (52 from 34) also made a half-century as the Super Giants posted an imposing 195-3 at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday.

The Capitals fell short on 189-7 in a run-fest, seamer Mohsin claiming outstanding figures of 4-16 from his four overs as Lucknow extended their winning run to three matches to sit two points behind leaders Gujarat Titans in a dream start for the two new franchises.

Axar Patel smashed a rapid unbeaten 42, while Rishabh Pant (44), Mitchell Marsh (37) and Rovman Powell (35) chipped in but sixth-placed Delhi slumped to a fifth defeat.

Captain Rahul and Hooda put on 95 for the second wicket after Quinton de Kock departed for 23.

Hooda was caught and bowled by Shardul Thakur soon after reaching his half-century, but Rahul continued to motor - hitting five sixes before he was dismissed by the same bowler in the penultimate over.

Thakur (3-40) was Delhi's only wicket-taker and their run chase got off to a nightmare start, with Prithvi Shaw and David Warner failing to made double figures.

Marsh and Pant put on 50 before Krishnappa Gowtham had the Australia all-rounder caught behind and the Capitals were 120-5 with seven over remaining after Mohsin cleaned up the India wicketkeeper-batter.

Lusty blows from Powell and Axar left Delhi needing 21 off the last over from Marcus Stoinis and although he was launched for two sixes, the all-rounder also bowled three dot balls to deny Pant's side.

 

Rahul leading by example

Captain Rahul has been outstanding for Lucknow, with only Jos Buttler (566) having scored more runs than his total of 451.

The India batter has registered two hundreds and as many half-centuries, averaging 56.38 from his 10 innings.

 

Mohsin the machine

Left-armer Mohsin claimed the huge scalps of Warner and Pant before returning to send the dangerous Powell packing and remove Thakur.

He bowled 15 dot balls and conceded just the one boundary in a match that was otherwise dominated by the batters.

KL Rahul crafted his second century of the Indian Premier League season against the winless Mumbai Indians as Lucknow Super Giants recorded a 36-run victory on Sunday.

Lucknow captain Rahul finished unbeaten on 103 off 62 balls, reaching three figures with a six off Riley Meredith (2-40), but Manish Pandey (22) was the only other batter to pass 20 in support of his skipper.

Kieron Pollard collected two dismissals for eight runs as the Super Giants posted 168-6 at the Wankhede Stadium, though Mumbai's hopes for their first win of the season diminished after losing regular wickets.

Ishan Kishan (eight) fell in bizarre fashion as he edged onto wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock's foot and into the hands of Jason Holder at slip, before Dewald Brevis (three) followed to Mohsin Khan (1-27).

Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma offered brief impetus with 39 from 31 balls, but he was removed by Krunal Pandya (3-19) before Suryakumar Yadav (seven) was dismissed by Ayush Badoni (1-6) to leave Mumbai 67-4.

Pollard and Tilak Varma posed a late threat to Lucknow with a 57-run partnership, with the latter scoring a quick 38 before holing out to Holder (1-36).

Pandya then dismissed Pollard (19) and Daniel Sams (three) in the final over, either side of Holder running out Jaydev Unadkat (one), as Super Giants eased to their third straight win to move up to fourth.

Captain fantastic

Rahul powered a brisk 56-ball century against Mumbai earlier in the month and again played with remarkable control for his 103, which included 12 fours and four sixes.

Only Rajasthan Royals' Jos Buttler has scored more runs in this season's competition (491) than the Lucknow captain, who has 368 from his eight matches so far.

Classy Chameera thwarts Mumbai

Mumbai became the first side to lose their first seven games of an IPL campaign after falling to Chennai Super Kings on Thursday, but may have fancied their chances after being set 169 to win at Wankhede.

However, Rahul's bowlers kept things tight and controlled the second innings, with Pandya capably supported by Dushmantha Chameera, who went for just 14 runs from his four overs, including 15 dot balls.

KL Rahul knocked a freewheeling century to steer Lucknow Super Giants to an 18-run victory as they inflicted a sixth defeat of the season upon Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

The Super Giants captain muscled 103 not out off 60 balls to guide his side to an unassailable 199-4 on Saturday.

Suryakumar Yadav mustered a side-best 37 for the Indians in response, but their spirited attempts to deliver a first win of the campaign fell short.

Rahul had showcased some typical virtuosity over the past few weeks with the Super Giants, including a patient 68 in victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad.

But his effort here was of the more explosively entertaining kind, with the tone set by a fifth-over frenzy off Tyrone Mills and capped with an exquisite six.

Able support from Quinton de Kock (24) and Manish Pandey (38) helped drive the Indians, despite Jaydev Unadkat's 2-32 bowling figures.

Any hopes of a response from the Indians looked in jeopardy when they were reduced to 57-3, before Yadav and Tilak Varma mounted a sturdy 64-run fourth-wicket partnership.

Kieron Pollard and Unadkat combined to leave the hosts needing an ambitious 26 off the last over, but three wickets in those final six balls ended any hopes.

Rahul delivers captain's knock

Taking to the crease for the first ball alongside wicketkeeper De Kock, the India star turned in a contender for the performance of the tournament to date with his assured strokes.

With nine fours and five sixes, the opening batsman led from the front, with an impressive strike rate of 171.66, while Avesh Khan led the way with the ball, taking 3-30.

Luckless Indians continue barren run

It has been six games and six losses across the start of the 2022 campaign now for Mumbai, and their hopes of making the playoffs truly look to be in tatters.

On the back of Wednesday's loss to Punjab Kings, it is the second game in a row where their margin of defeat has clocked in under the 20-run mark, but it is still a painful streak they are yet to buck.

A solid performance with bat and ball saw the Lucknow Super Giants seal a 12-run win against Sunrisers Hyderabad at DY Patil Stadium.

Super Giants captain KL Rahul (68) and Deepak Hooda (51) were the standout performers in the Lucknow innings as they set their opponents 170 to win.

Sunrisers had looked in a strong position to chase down that total at 143-4 with just under three overs left, only for a late collapse to see them fall well short.

The Super Giants were three down within the first five overs, with two wickets for Washington Sundar (2-28) in his first seven balls, claiming Quinton de Kock and Evin Lewis for a single run each, then, immediately after hitting a big six, Manish Pandey (11) could only find Bhuvneshwar Kumar from Romario Shepherd's delivery to leave them 27-3.

Hooda came to the crease and rescued things with Rahul, putting on a partnership of 87 before the former fell to Shepherd, with Thangarasu Natarajan (2-26) taking the late wickets of Rahul and Krunal Pandya (6) to seemingly limit Lucknow.

However, Abhishek Sharma (13) and Kane Williamson (16) failed to eat much into the target, and despite solid efforts from Rahul Tripathi (44) and Nicholas Pooran (34), Hyderabad ultimately fell short, with Jason Holder (3-34) taking three wickets for just three runs in the final over.

Skipper leads the way with the bat

Rahul and Hooda were the only batsmen for the victors to score 20 or more runs, but that was all that was needed after their efforts, with the captain hitting six fours and one six.

Hooda struck three fours and three sixes, and grabbed his second half-century of the IPL season so far.

Bowling attack comes to the fore

This was a classic case of the batsmen setting a defendable total, but then the bowlers having to earn their place by seizing control back late on.

Avesh Khan impressed with 4-24 from his four overs, including taking both Sunrisers openers, while Krunal (2-27) and Holder performed crucially at the death.

Evin Lewis smashed an unbeaten half-century propel the Lucknow Super Giants to a six-wicket victory over Chennai Super Kings after Dwayne Bravo became the leading wicket-taker in Indian Premier League history.

Lucknow looked set for defeat when Quinton de Kock fell for 61 in their pursuit of 211 for a maiden IPL win, but Lewis stepped up with a blistering 23-ball 55 to stun CSK.

Robin Uthappa breezed to a 25-ball half-century before he was pinned in front for 50 by Ravi Bishnoi (2-24).

Moeen Ali continued the flurry of runs with his 35 off 22 deliveries, while Shivam Dube's clean striking in his 30-ball 49 along with MS Dhoni's brisk 16 propelled Chennai to an imposing total of 210-7.

De Kock and KL Rahul (40) shared an opening stand of 99 from 10.2 overs before the India batter was caught by Ambati Rayudu off Dwaine Pretorius.

Manish Pandey (five) followed soon after to Tushar Deshpande (1-40), with Bravo taking the catch, and Lucknow's chances seemingly diminished when De Kock skied a Pretorius slower ball to Dhoni.

Bravo (1-35) surpassed Lasith Malinga as he claimed his 171st wicket in the IPL by dismissing Deepak Hooda (13), but Lewis and Ayush Badoni, who raced to 19 off 9, saw the Super Giants to an unlikely victory with three balls to spare.

 

Lewis cuts loose after De Dock fireworks 

De Kock laid the platform for Lewis' late onslaught and the West Indies batter delivered in emphatic fashion.

The 30-year-old almost single-handedly turned the game on its head, launching three sixes and hitting six fours.

Bravo for Pretorius in losing cause

Pretorius claimed the two big wickets of openers Rahul and De Kock as he took 2-31, registering the lowest economy of any Super Kings bowler (7.75).

It was a memorable day for the 38-year-old Bravo, as the former West Indies captain returned 1-35 from his four overs, but he was unable to celebrate a victory.

Rahul Tewatia thrashed a brisk 40 to secure a five-wicket victory for Gujarat Titans in their maiden Indian Premier League game against fellow newbies Lucknow Super Giants on Monday.

Half-centuries from Deepak Hooda (55) and Ayush Badoni (54) guided the Super Giants to 158-5 having lost four wickets in the first five overs.

That recovery was not enough, however, as Tewatia saw the Titans to the target of 159 with two balls to spare.

Titans captain Hardik Pandya (33) and Matthew Wade (30) laid the foundation for a successful chase, David Miller also contributing a quickfire 30 as Gujarat's batting depth provided the difference.

KL Rahul started his IPL campaign in disappointing fashion as he was caught behind – on review – from the first ball of the innings from Mohammed Shami (3-25), who removed Quinton de Kock (seven) soon after.

A superb Shubman Gill catch off Varun Aaron (2-45) then dismissed Evin Lewis (10) and Shami collected his third by bowling Manish Pandey (six) as Lucknow limped to 32-4 in the powerplay.

Hooda headed the fightback alongside Badoni in an 87-run partnership as the Super Giants scored 111 runs in the last 10 overs to reach a competitive total.

Dushmantha Chameera (2-22) boosted Lucknow's hopes by dismissing Gill for a duck and bowling Vijay Shankar (four) to reduce the Titans to 15-2.

Eighty runs were still required off just over eight overs despite Hardik and Wade's repair work, but Tewatia hit two sixes and five fours, the last of which clinched victory to power the Titans to triumph.

Krunal earns Pandya bragging rights

Hardik looked in scintillating touch as he hit 33 off 28 deliveries, with five fours and a six, before sibling Krunal Pandya had him caught by Pandey.

The left-arm spinner finished with figures of 1-17 from his four overs, boasting the lowest economy of any bowler in the match (4.25).

Rahul fails to deliver

Only Ruturaj Gaikwad (635) and Faf du Plessis (633) scored more runs in last year's tournament than Rahul, who managed 626 for the Punjab Kings, but the new Super Giants captain's failure set the tone for a disappointing performance from his side.

KL Rahul has officially joined newcomers Lucknow for the new Indian Premier League season, it was revealed on Friday.

The move was widely expected and has reportedly seen Lucknow spend INR 17 crore (£1.68million) to acquire the India batsman.

Lucknow, who have yet to reveal their full name ahead of the 2022 season, have also signed up Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul arrives after leaving Punjab Kings, the team he previously captained in the competition. He scored 626 IPL runs last season at an average of 62.6, including six half-centuries, with only Ruturaj Gaikwad (635) and Faf du Plessis (633) more prolific with the bat.

Rahul blasted the most sixes (30), including eight in one innings of 98 against Chennai Super Kings in October.

Lucknow team owner Sanjiv Goenka said: "KL is not only an outstanding batsman but also a great wicketkeeper.

"Marcus is a great finisher, a good bowler and a phenomenal fielder."

Stoinis has previously been a key figure for Delhi Capitals and Lucknow have spent INR 9.2 crore (£910,000) on the Perth man, according to the Times of India.

Young spinner Ravi Bishnoi has also been signed up after leaving Punjab Kings, as Lucknow's third draft pick.

According to Cricinfo, Goenka told Star Sports: "We want players to be here for three, four, five, six, seven, eight years.

"KL will be the captain. I have been very impressed with not only his batting and wicketkeeping, but also his leadership skills. He is evolving, growing, maturing as a leader. He is somebody I would've wanted to lead the team and I do believe that given the right atmosphere, environment, he will emerge as a remarkable leader."

Former England boss Andy Flower was appointed head coach of Lucknow in December.

Fellow IPL newcomers Team Ahmedabad have picked Hardik Pandya, who will be their captain, alongside Rashid Khan and Shubman Gill in their draft picks.

 

KL Rahul says India must learn from their ODI series defeat to South Africa and suggested "a few" changes could be made when they attempt to avoid a whitewash.

The tourists have been unable to show a positive response to their 2-1 Test series defeat at the hands of the Proteas, suffering back-to-back defeats in the 50-over format.

India posted 287-6 after Rahul won the toss on a searing hot Friday in Paarl, Rishabh Pant top scoring with a swashbuckling 85 off 71 balls and the captain making 55 at the top of the order.

South Africa chased down their target with 11 balls to spare, winning by seven wickets after Janneman Malan (91) and Quinton de Kock (78) laid the foundations with an opening stand of 132.

Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen were both unbeaten on 37, while Bavuma made 35 as the Proteas wrapped up a fourth ODI series win out of five against India, 

Rahul, skippering the side in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, stressed that India can use the defeats as part of their development.

He said during the post-match presentation: "They are playing some really good cricket at home and we are making mistakes in the middle. It's good learning for us.

"Obviously it's not great to be on the losing side two games in a row. We're trying to get better at things we haven't done well in the past.

"The middle order is crucial going into a big tournament. We want to get wickets in the middle, create pressure. They showed us the importance of partnerships and the importance of putting pressure on early."

The tourists must regroup ahead of the third and final ODI at Newlands, where they may make alterations to the side.

Rahul said: "I'm not saying it as an excuse but we haven't played 50 overs cricket in a long time. It's been tough on the body, staying in the bubbles. It's challenging, but I'm not saying we don't love challenges.

"[We have to] look ahead to the third game and try to win that one. Maybe a few changes, may not be, I can't say."

Dean Elgar believes giving Kagiso Rabada "a rocket" helped South Africa secure a historic first Test win over India at the Wanderers.

The Proteas levelled the three-match series at 1-1 by achieving their highest successful run chase at the Johannesburg venue on a rain-affected day four.

Captain Elgar led by example with a brilliant unbeaten 96, gaining support from Rassie van der Dussen (40) and Temba Bavuma (23 not out) as South Africa chased down their target of 240 to wrap up a seven-wicket win.

Rabada took three wickets in each innings as South Africa kept the series alive following a first loss to India at SuperSport Park.

Skipper Elgar revealed paceman Rabada was fired up by some home truths.

He said: "With KG there was something that happened behind the scenes but we're not going to get into that. Sometimes KG needs a rocket. You could then almost sense the intensity and focus, he was in the zone.

"The moment he has that attitude he wants to bowl and wants to contribute, you have to use it as a captain. It was awesome to see him fire."

Elgar gave another great demonstration of his fighting spirit in a tenacious and inspiring knock, leading by example at the top of the order.

The opener said: "It's always a privilege to represent your country. I would like to think the knocks I take make me extra motivated to perform. Some would call it stupid and some would call it brave.

"The bigger picture is for us to win. We struggled to get a stable batting line-up and we had to be very patient. We've entrusted those positions to guys we feel can perform those roles and great to see them pull it off."

India's stand-in captain KL Rahul says Virat Kohli should be fit to return in the decider at Newlands after missing the second Test due to a back spasm, while Mohammed Siraj will be monitored after sustaining a hamstring injury.

He said: "Virat is feeling better already, he's been in the nets the last couple of days fielding and running around and I think he should be fine.

"Siraj is starting to feel better each day. A couple of days break might really help him. But we have quality on our bench as well, Ishant [Sharma] and Umesh [Yadav] are waiting.

"Looking forward to Cape Town. We expected every game to be competitive. A loss like this is disappointing but we've always been a team that gets hungrier after a loss."

India's chief selector Chetan Sharma has insisted Virat Kohli was asked to reconsider his decision to step down as the team's T20I captain.

Kohli confirmed before the T20 World Cup that he would leave his role as India skipper in the shortest format, though he does intend to carry on playing in the team.

The 33-year-old also believed he would continue as ODI and Test captain. However, he is now only the skipper for red ball matches, with Rohit Sharma leading the side in limited overs games.

Rohit, however, will not skipper India's white ball side in South Africa, with the batsman missing out due to a hamstring injury, with KL Rahul instead named as captain for the three-match ODI series.

Rahul has never led India before in any format, though he will at least be able to call on the experience of Kohli, who has been included in the 18-man squad and led India to victory in the first Test this week.

While announcing the squad at a news conference on Friday, Chetan was asked if Kohli's claims that he had not been asked to reconsider his decision were true, with those comments having contradicted BCCI president Sourav Ganguly's previous claim.

"When the meeting started, it was a surprise for everybody," Chetan said.

"Because the World Cup is upon you and you hear this news, what will be the reaction of a normal person?

"Everyone who was present in the meeting asked him to reconsider, to rethink; 'We can talk about this after the World Cup'. All the selectors felt this could affect the performance in the World Cup.

"It was told to Virat for the sake of Indian cricket to please continue as captain. It was told to him by everybody available in the meeting. Everybody said that.

"Who will not say that when you hear such news? You will be in shock. What will be your instant reaction? It was a matter of the World Cup.

"We thought let's talk after the World Cup. We told Virat the World Cup is upon us, and everybody requested let's talk after the World Cup.

"But he has his plans. We have to respect his decision. If someone has taken a decision, and he said in the media also, that he was thinking [along these lines] from the time of WTC, but at that time everybody told him to think about it."

Jasprit Bumrah will act as vice captain against the Proteas, while R Ashwin earned a recall for the first time since 2017 and Venkatesh Iyer received his maiden ODI call up.

The ODIs take place on January 19, 21 and 23.


India's squad in full:  KL Rahul (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Venkatesh Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Yuzvendra Chahal, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Jasprit Bumrah (vice-capt), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Prasidh Krishna, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj.

Mohammed Shami claimed his 200th Test scalp as 18 wickets tumbled on a captivating day three at SuperSport Park that ended with India in control against South Africa.

No play was possible on day two due to rain, but the Proteas made up for lost time by bowling the tourists out for 327 in a dramatic morning session.

The brilliant Lungi Ngidi took 6-71 as India lost seven wickets for 49 runs, KL Rahul falling for 123 and Ajinkya Rahane 48 after they had resumed on 272 in Centurion.

Kagiso Rabada provided great support for his fellow paceman, claiming 3-72, but India quickly shifted the momentum when South Africa started their reply.

Shami was outstanding, helping himself to 5-44 as the Proteas were bowled out for 197 in 62.3 overs, Temba Bavuma top scoring with 52, Quinton de Kock making 34 and Rabada 25.

Jasprit Bumrah (2-16) spent a long spell of the field with a sprained right ankle, but was able to return and end the South Africa innings, while Shardul Thakur chipped in with 2-51.

India closed on 16-1, leading by 146 runs, after Mayank Agarwal edged debutant Marco Jansen behind but Virat Kohli's side are well poised to take a 1-0 lead following a day that saw a record number of wickets fall in a Test at this venue.

 

Ngidi and Rabada tear through tourists

Rabada started the India collapse when he had Rahul caught behind in the fourth over of the day and De Kock took another catch to give Ngidi his fourth wicket, sending Rahane on his way three overs later.

Ngidi had his third five-wicket Test haul as Rishabh Pant could only fend a hostile short ball to Rassie van der Dussen short leg, with Rabada seeing the back of Ravichandran Ashwin and Thakur.

India were all out in a flash when Bumrah became Jansen's first Test victim after the excellent Ngidi drew an edge from Shami and De Kock snaffled a fourth catch. 

Landmark for Shami as Proteas fold

Bumrah struck in the first over of the Proteas' reply, captain Dean Elgar edging behind, before Shami took centre stage.

Keegan Petersen chopped on to the third ball after lunch from Shami, who then produced a peach of a delivery to clean up Aiden Markram.

Shami's impeccable line and length, combined with a touch of movement of the seam, accounted for Bavuma caught behind just after he reached his half-century. Pant took another two catches for the 31-year-old, who became only the fifth Indian paceman to take 200 Test scalps.

The second day of the opening Test between South Africa and India was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to persistent rain at SuperSport Park.

India were set to resume on 272-3 as they looked to build on their promising total on Monday, but heavy downpours meant the umpires called play off after an early lunch had initially been taken.

Improved weather has been forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday in Centurion, though Virat Kohli's side will have to pick up the tempo if they are to build on their start.

Opener KL Rahul will resume on 122 unbeaten when play gets underway again, with Ajinkya Rahane joining him at the crease on 40.

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.

KL Rahul says India face a "very, very difficult decision" over who bats at number five in the first Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park.

Rahul, vice-captain in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, gave a strong indication that the tourists will persist with playing five bowlers in the Boxing Day Test behind closed doors in Centurion.

He said: "I think more teams have started playing [five bowlers], because, you know, every team wants to pick up 20 wickets, and that's the only way you can win a Test match.

"We've definitely used that tactic, and it's helped us in every Test match that we've played away from India. I think the workload also becomes slightly easier to manage with five bowlers, and when you have that kind of quality, you might as well use it."

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