October 3, 2019 / 6:29 AM / 17 days ago

UPDATE 1-Cricket-Agarwal double ton, Rohit heroics flatten South Africa

* Agarwal falls for 215, Rohit makes 176

* India reach 450-5 at tea break (Updates at tea)

Oct 3 (Reuters) - Opening batsman Mayank Agarwal converted his maiden test hundred into a double as India put South Africa’s bowlers to the sword in the opening match of the three-test series at Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

After Rohit Sharma’s potentially career-defining 176 in his first innings as a test opener, it was Agarwal’s turn to dominate the bowlers as the 28-year-old made 215 to help the hosts reach 450 for five at the tea break on the second day.

India lost Cheteshwar Pujara, captain Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane cheaply in the second session but have already managed to put up an imposing first innings total on the board.

In more worrying signs for the batsmen of South Africa, who lost 3-0 on their last trip to India in 2015, a few deliveries kept low on the pitch already offering turn for the slow bowlers.

Playing only his fifth test, Agarwal, who had a previous highest score of 77, drove South African spin spearhead Keshav Maharaj for two runs to long off and threw his hands in air after bringing up his double hundred.

Starting the day on 202 without loss, India’s openers treated South Africa’s bowlers with the same disdain they showed on the rain-interrupted opening day on Wednesday.

Visiting captain Faf du Plessis packed his fielders on one side of the wicket but both Rohit and Agarwal scored almost at will, negating the spinners by often employing both versions of the sweep shots - conventional and reverse.

South Africa, who lost their previous series at home to Sri Lanka 2-0, looked desperately short of ideas in the face of the batting onslaught.

Rohit and Agarwal, opening the batting for India together for the first time, stitched together a stand of 317 - a record for any wicket for India against South Africa.

The only player in the world with three double hundreds in one-day internationals, Rohit appeared set for his first in the longest format but was out stumped to South Africa spin spearhead Keshav Maharaj.

Dropped on 126 by Quinton de Kock off seamer Vernon Philander, Rohit hit Maharaj for his sixth six and followed it up with a four but the left-arm spinner spun the next one past his forward defence for the wicketkeeper to whip the bails off.

Philander removed Pujara for six with the first delivery of the second session while Kohli, who made 20, offered a tame return catch to debutant all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy.

Karnataka batsman Agarwal, who hit 23 fours and six sixes in his kock, added 53 for the third wicket with Kohli and a further 54 for the fourth with Rahane (15) before he holed out off a tame full toss from part-time spinner Dean Elgar. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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