rohit sharma

Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa Oct. 2. (IANS photo)

VISAKHAPATNAM — Rohit Sharma scored a century in his test debut as an opener as India reached 202-0 at stumps with rain preventing any play in the final session on Day 1 of the first test against South Africa Oct. 2.

Sharma had never opened even in domestic first-class cricket apart from his two-ball duck for the Indian Board President’s XI against South Africans last week.

He was unbeaten on 115 — his fourth test century — with 12 fours and five sixes. Mayank Agarwal also turned on the aggression, reaching 84 not out with 11 fours and two sixes as South Africa failed to break through in its 59.1 overs.

“I was told in West Indies (about opening in this series). It’s about mentally training your mind more than anything else,” Sharma said. “I prefer opening the innings and going out to bat without thinking too much. I was very clear in my mind about how I wanted to bat.”

Bad light and thunder stopped play five minutes before tea with heavy rain shortly afterward.

Earlier, India won the toss and opted to bat. Sharma and Agarwal, India’s ninth different opening pairing in 24 tests since July 2017, took the hosts to 91-0 at lunch in 30 overs.

Vernon Philander (0-34) was impressive with the new ball but couldn’t claim a wicket.

The openers batted slowly through the first hour but picked up pace thereafter. Sharma reached his half-century off 84 balls before lunch. Offspinner Dane Piedt (0-43) went for more than six runs per over.

India scored 111 runs in the afternoon session.

India captain Virat Kohli said that limited-overs specialist Sharma, who averages 39.62 in 27 tests since 2013, will open for the short term with Lokesh Rahul sent back to domestic cricket to regain form.  

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