Ranchi, Oct 19 Opener Rohit Sharma led the repair work with a combative 38 after India’s top-order batsmen faced heat for the first time in the series as the hosts reached 71 for three at lunch on day one of the third Test against South Africa, here on Saturday.
Sharma smashed five delectable boundaries and a six over the fine leg after successfully reviewing a decision when he was given out on seven.
Giving him company was vice captain Ajinkya Rahane who looked resolute on 11 as they staged a recovery after Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje had reduced India to 39 for three in 15.3 overs.
Uneven bounce greeted the Indian openers after hosts elected to bat Rabada and Lungi Ngidi made full use of the conditions to give the visitors their best start of the series.
Pacer Rabada was impressive in his first spell of 7-4-15-2 as he got rid of opener Mayank Agarwal (10) and Cheteshwar Pujara (nought) inside the first-hour’s play.
The first breakthrough came in Rabada’s third over when the pacer swung it away with Agarwal edging it to Dean Elgar at third slip.
The young fast bowler dismissed Pujara in his fifth over following a successful review by the Proteas after on-field umpire Richard Illingworth turned down an lbw appeal.
But it was Nortje who earned the prized scalp of India skipper Virat Kohli, who could not read one that came back in sharply. Kohli took the review but it was not unsuccessful.
Sharma and Rahane then stitched an unbeaten 32-run stand to ensure do not suffer any more damage before the break even as the sun played hide and seek.