Rohit Sharma raises his bat to celebrate his century during the first day of the third Test at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association stadium in Ranchi on Saturday. AFP
Rohit Sharma is unbeaten on 117 after scoring his third hundred in this series. He has shared 185 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane, who is 83 not out.
The evening session lasted only 30 minutes before umpires took players off the field due to bad light. Rain arrived a few minutes later, and play was called off at around 4pm local time.
India reached lunch on 71-3 — after being reduced to 39-3 — before dominating the afternoon session with 134 runs to go to tea at 205-3.
Rahane has hit 11 fours and a six, outdone by Sharma with 14 fours and four sixes. The pair brought up their 100-partnership off 128 balls.
Sharma was able to clear the ropes with ease and, with 17 sixes in three Tests, has recorded the most hit by a batsman in any Test series. The previous record was 15 sixes by West Indies' Shemron Hetmyer against Bangladesh.
Rahane reached his fourth half-century in the last four innings, and Sharma then notched up his sixth test hundred and third in five innings as a newly discovered opener.
The duo batted really well. There was a bit of moisture early on. Wicket was doing something," said India's batting coach Vikram Rathour.
"They also bowled in better areas but recovery was phenomenal. Both of them batted really well and post-lunch the wicket eased a bit. We should catch this."
Kagiso Rabada got two early scalps in a fiery morning spell and fellow paceman Anrich Nortje claimed his maiden Test wicket after he trapped India skipper Virat Kohli lbw for 12.
Sharma, who hit twin centuries in his debut game as an opening batsman at the start of the series, then steadied the innings along with Rahane, who completed his 21st Test fifty.
Sharma played it cool to fifty then soon launched an attack with a barrage of sixes, reaching his sixth Test hundred with his fourth hit over the fence amid loud applause from the home crowd.
The duo from Mumbai have recorded India's best fourth-wicket stand against South Africa after surpassing the 178 between Kohli and Rahane in the second match.
Proxy skipper for toss
In the morning session, India lost Mayank Agarwal, for 10, and Cheteshwar Pujara, for nought, to Rabada's lively spell of pace bowling and slipped to 16 for two.
Rabada nearly got his third when Sharma was judged lbw by the on-field umpire when the opener was on seven.
But Sharma successfully reviewed the decision as replays clearly showed the batsman got an inside edge off the bat before the ball hit the pads.
"Rabada is one of the better bowlers in the world at the moment. Today he showed why he's rated so high," Rathour said in praise of the South African pace spearhead.
"As a batsman, you need to survive those spells, you need to get through those spells and Rohit did very well today again."
Kohli made a review of his own —a leg-before call — but tracking technology showed the ball would have grazed the leg stump.
Nortje said getting Kohli's prized scalp was "unbelievable" and praised his entire bowling unit.
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Rohit Sharma described his maiden Test double century as "most challenging" after he lifted India out of early trouble and put the hosts in command of the third match against South Africa. The tourists were in trouble at nine for two, with Indian fast bowlers sending the opposition openers back to the pavilion.
"You and everyone else in the world will agree to this — that no team has ever had five fast bowlers together as a package," Shami said in an online chat for ESPNcricinfo.
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