Ravichandran Ashwin made a crucial breakthrough late on day three as India pressed home their advantage against South Africa in the second Test.

The Proteas started Saturday on 36-3 and were all out for 275 in their first innings by the close of play, still 326 runs behind the hosts in Pune.

It could have been worse for South Africa, but India's bowlers were frustrated by a magnificent 109-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj that spanned 259 balls.

But India ended the day on top after the impressive Ashwin (4-69) claimed two vital wickets in the final four overs of the day.

South Africa were on 271-8 until Ashwin dismissed Maharaj, who had batted with a sore shoulder for a career-best 72, before the spinner also accounted for number 11 Kagiso Rabada (2), leaving Philander stranded on 44 not out.

Pace bowler Umesh Yadav took 3-37, with India – who declared on 601-5 in their first innings - looking good for a victory that would seal the series.

With two days still to play, their next decision will be whether to enforce the follow-on. 

India captain Virat Kohli, who will make that call, followed up his double-hundred with the bat by taking an early catch on Saturday to remove nightwatchman Anrich Nortje off the bowling of Mohammed Shami (2-44) for 3.

South Africa were in disarray at 53-5 when Theunis de Bruyn was caught behind off Yadav for 30, with captain Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock left to steady the ship somewhat by combining for a quickfire 75.

Ashwin bowled De Kock for 31 before lunch, though, and Senuran Muthusamy (7) was out lbw to Ravindra Jadeja (1-81) in the third over after the interval.

Du Plessis (64) had reached his 21st Test half-century off just 64 balls but his pace slowed from there and, when Ashwin found his outside edge, the Proteas were poised for a collapse at 162-8.

However, Philander and Maharaj had other ideas with a disciplined, dogged partnership amid hot and humid conditions.

Maharaj aggravated his right shoulder – which had been injured while fielding on Friday – as he smacked Shami for four while on 17, but he bravely fought on to earn a first Test half-century in a 132-ball knock.

But Ashwin capped fine outing by having Maharaj caught by Rohit Sharma at leg slip and promptly trapping Rabada in front, with Philander unbeaten having faced 192 deliveries.

Mayank Agarwal saluted the "tremendous" Virat Kohli after the India captain made his highest Test score on a punishing day two for South Africa in Pune.

Kohli crafted 254 not out with support from Ajinkya Rahane (59) and Ravindra Jadeja (91) as India racked up a mammoth 601-5 declared on Friday.

The skipper had not reached three figures in the longest format this year, but posted a seventh double-century and also passed 7,000 Test runs with a masterclass before the tourists were reduced to 36-3 at stumps as India eye an unassailable 2-0 lead.

Agarwal, who scored a hundred on day one, hailed Kohli after he made the Proteas bowlers toil - hitting two sixes and 33 fours in a stunning knock.

"It was a top-class knock from him. To get 250 is no joke and the way he's batting is just tremendous." the opener said.

"The positivity he gets, the intent he gets is fabulous. His records and his scores and the way he's playing shows everything we all need to see."

Agarwal says the rapid rate in which Kohli and Jadeja scored during a fifth-wicket stand of 225 could prove to be vital.

He added: "It's put us in the driving seat and it's not just the amount of runs, it's the pace that the runs have come that has made a huge difference. It's giving us extra time, that extra session and a half that can become very crucial."

South Africa interim director Enoch Nkwe pointed the finger of blame at the seam bowlers at the end of a gruelling second day.

"We've only got ourselves to blame this morning. We thought the conditions were conducive to seam bowling, we just didn't hit our straps." Nkwe said.

"We bowled a little bit too wide and didn't test the Indian batters enough and when we do that we just allow the batters to get in and we need to learn tight lines for a longer period of time."

Virat Kohli made his highest Test score with a domineering unbeaten double-century as India piled on the runs before South Africa lost three wickets on a one-sided day two in Pune.

Kohli reached three figures for the first time in the longest format this year and went on to make his seventh Test double-century with the tourists toiling in the heat on Friday.

The India captain crafted a magnificent 254 not out that included two sixes and 33 fours, before declaring with his team on a mammoth 601-5, with Ravindra Jadeja (91) and Ajinkya Rahane (59) making half-centuries on a flat pitch.

Kohli passed 7,000 Test runs and was given a life when he edged Senuran Muthusamy to Faf du Plessis on 208 as the spinner over-stepped.

South Africa face a battle to avoid going 2-0 down in the three-match series after they were reduced to 36-3 at stumps, Umesh Yadav (2-16) and Mohammed Shami making inroads.

The Proteas were unable to claim a breakthrough in the morning session after India resumed on 273-3 and Kohli brought up his 26th Test hundred with an exquisite straight drive for four off Vernon Philander.

Rahane took a liking to the pace of Anrich Nortje as he accumulated runs steadily, reaching his half-century in the morning session before India took lunch in command on 356-3.

Kohli punched Kagiso Rabada for two glorious boundaries in an over but a fourth-wicket stand of 178 ended when Rahane was caught behind to become Keshav Maharaj's 100th victim in the longest format.

Rabada's frustration mounted as Jadeja joined Kohli to continue piling on the runs, the skipper moving on to 150 as the Proteas attack suffered.

Jadeja came in with a license to swing and did just that, the boundaries flowing with Kohli having some luck as he cut just past Du Plessis at first slip on more than one occasion.

Du Plessis held on to seemingly remove Kohli shortly after he had tickled Muthusamy around the corner to bring up his double-century, but the captain was given a reprieve as the left-arm tweaker's front foot was well over the line.

Jadeja treated the crowd to his sword celebration after dispatching Aiden Markram to the ropes twice in an over before both the all-rounder and Kohli clattered Maharaj for six with disdain.

Kohli had 250 to his name when he slapped Dean Elgar over midwicket for four and declared after Jadeja holed out attempting to hit Muthusamy for six.

Umesh then did damage with the new ball, trapping Markram leg before without score before Elgar played on and Temba Bavuma edged Shami's first ball behind to put South Africa deeper in the mire.

Chris Silverwood has already identified England's areas for improvement in Test cricket in an aim to fulfil Ashley Giles' target of becoming "the most respected team in the world".

Silverwood has been appointed as England's new head coach, replacing Trevor Bayliss, who delivered limited-overs success, winning the Cricket World Cup at home earlier this year.

While director of cricket Giles insists England are "not moving all our focus back onto Test cricket", urging the need to find a "balance", there is a desire to improve results in the longest format.

Under Bayliss, Joe Root's side could only draw at home in the Ashes, while they suffered series defeats away to West Indies, New Zealand, Australia and India.

Silverwood, previously the bowling coach, told a news conference: "I think we'll become [the most respected team] by being successful and building on the white-ball success we've had.

"We talk about prioritising red-ball cricket, but let's not forget we do have two big white-ball tournaments coming up.

"But moving the Test team forward, we're going to have to look at batting for long periods of time, then continuing to build the bowling attack where we can be successful and consistent in winning away from home as well.

"Equally, I think it's in the way we play as well. It's the way you win that helps make you the most respected team in the world, so we'll keep driving the culture behind the scenes and make sure that, when we're on the park, we are role models to everybody else out there as well."

Pushed further on England's batting order, Silverwood acknowledged there is work to do on the basics.

England have struggled to identify an opening combination since Alastair Cook's retirement, with Jason Roy the latest to fail, although Rory Burns and Joe Denly hinted at a partnership towards the end of the home series against Australia.

"It certainly needs work moving forward," Silverwood said. "One of the things we'll be looking at is building a batting group that can bat for long periods of time, stack runs up and put pressure on.

"Yes, it sounds a little bit old fashioned, but I think we need to recognise that we need to look at that - and make sure we've got the right people in the right places to achieve that as well."

Mayank Agarwal continued his fine form as his century helped India take a commanding position at the end of day one of the second Test against South Africa.

Agarwal - who amassed 215 in the first innings of the first Test as India claimed a resounding win - hit 108 from 195 deliveries in Pune on Thursday.

He was ably supported by Cheteshwar Pujara (58) and India captain Virat Kohli (63 not out), as the hosts reached stumps on 273-3.

There was one bright spot for South Africa, with Kagiso Rabada taking all three of their wickets, although the paceman will need support if Faf du Plessis' side are to prevent India posting a huge total.

While Agarwal took some time to get into his stride, his partner Rohit Sharma was swiftly on the attack before his wicket fell when Rabada drew an edge that carried through to Quinton de Kock.

Three boundaries in one over saw Agarwal take the fight back to South Africa before lunch, however, and he brought up his fifty with a perfectly timed cut shot early in the afternoon session.

Pujara was looking equally as sharp at the other end, registering his half-century in style with two fours following a six.

The partnership ended when Rabada struck again, Pujara fishing at a wide, short delivery the he edged to Du Plessis.

Keshav Maharaj was smashed for two successive maximums as Agarwal moved on to 99 - India's opener steering Vernon Philander for a boundary to surpass 100 in the next over.

Agarwal's innings was halted by Du Plessis' smart catch from another Rabada delivery soon afterwards, though Kohli took up the mantle - scoring 26 off 19 balls to bring up another half-century and steer India into a strong position heading into day two.

Virat Kohli leapt to the defence of India team-mate Rohit Sharma, urging people to "give the guy a break" ahead of the second Test with South Africa.

Sharma hit consecutive centuries in the first meeting as India romped to a 203-run victory in the three-match series.

That fine display arrived at a time when his form in the longest format was coming under intense scrutiny, although he was the top run scorer at the Cricket World Cup. 

Captain Kohli now wants Rohit to be given the chance to enjoy his cricket in the Test arena once again.

"Come on, give the guy a break now," he said ahead of the second Test in Pune, which begins on Thursday. 

"You know he's done well, let him enjoy his batting, let him have fun like he does in white-ball cricket. Stop focusing on what's Rohit's going to do in Tests.

"I think he's in a great space, he's playing really well. He looked relaxed in the first game which is great to see.

"The experience he's accumulated over the years came to the fore."

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis saw his side concede the initiative on day one of the first Test, with India racking up 317 runs before losing a wicket.

The hosts went on to declare on 502-7, leaving South Africa with a mountain to climb and it was a summit they could not scale.

However, Du Plessis is confident his team will bounce back.

"Obviously, we didn't get 20 wickets in the previous match, that is something that we aware of and something that we are trying to fix," he said.

"At the end of the day, taking wickets wins you Test matches so our thinking will be trying to pick players that can influence the game and win matches for the team.

"We are a team that is very resilient and we come back almost always."

The tourists will need to overcome the considerable weight of recent history if they are to triumph overall, with India looking to extend their eight-series winning streak on home soil in Tests.

India have not lost a home Test series since 2012, when England prevailed. 

Australia’s Ashes hero Steve Smith is ready to return to cricket after a much-needed break since returning home from England.

The batsman was a pivotal figure as Australia retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw in England this European summer, having compiled 774 runs across four Tests for the Baggy Green.

Focus now turns to the Australian summer, with T20 series against Pakistan and Sri Lanka over the next month, and Smith says he feels refreshed after shaking off fatigue from the Ashes campaign.

"It was probably a bit of everything: mental, emotional, physical," Smith told reporters at Sydney Airport.

"Towards the last Test match it got to day two and my mind was saying 'keep going', but my body had shut down and wouldn't let me do anything.

"I was a little bit sick after that. I've had a good couple of weeks just to lay low. I just got back into things over the past week.

"I've had three hits now. That will be enough to be ready to go for this first Shield game."

Smith will make his first appearance in domestic first-class cricket since the 2018 ball-tampering scandal when NSW face Queensland in Thursday’s Sheffield Shield clash at the GABBA.

Our #SheffieldShield squad for our season opener against Queensland at the Gabba starting tomorrow! 

? https://t.co/4LZpCormJN #QLDvNSW pic.twitter.com/DgDLE7zmIV

— NSW Blues (@CricketNSWBlues) October 9, 2019

Questions have already been posed regarding the possibility of Smith captaining the Australia side again, with his leadership ban set to expire in 2020, but the 30-year-old played down speculation and praised the work of current skipper Tim Paine.

"I'm not even thinking about that at the moment," Smith said.

"I was pretty chilled out the whole time (in England). I'm obviously pretty intense when I am out there batting but I help out wherever I can.

"I don't want to sit back and not say something if I think it might help us. We will cross that bridge later if it comes. At the moment I am comfortable and Tim is doing a great job."

Smith is expected to make a domestic return to Test action in November when Australia host Pakistan in a three-match series.

First Alec Stewart was seen as the leading candidate. Then Gary Kirsten became the front-runner for the job. In the end, though, Chris Silverwood came up on the rails to become England's new head coach.

The 44-year-old nicknamed 'Spoons' may not be a top-drawer name in comparison to others linked with the high-profile vacancy, but he has undoubtedly earned his opportunity.

Promoted from his role as bowling coach under previous coach Trevor Bayliss, Silverwood made clear his focus in the statement confirming his appointment: "I aim to continue the great work that has been done over the past five years and build on our future, especially in the Test arena."

So, who is the man now in charge of the England team? We take a look at his career path to the job, as well as highlighting some of the key issues he faces at the start of his reign.

 

Playing days and coaching success

Born in Pontefract, Yorkshireman Silverwood spent the majority of his playing career at his home county before finishing up at Middlesex. A lively pace bowler, he played six Tests and seven one-day games for England but never truly established himself at international level.

His reputation as a coach was forged at domestic level with Essex, first working with the county's bowlers before taking over in charge of the first team in 2016.

He immediately led them to promotion from Division Two and then, the following year, they were crowned county champions for the first time in 25 years.

Their success was spearheaded by a Kolpak recruit in Simon Harmer, yet the team also contained plenty of homegrown talent.  He helped seamer Jamie Porter rise to become one of the most consistent wicket-takers in first-class cricket, while batsman Tom Westley also earned international recognition during his watch.

Crucially for Essex, the foundations were laid for future success. This year, under the guidance of Silverwood's former assistant Anthony McGrath, a familiar-looking squad has won both the Vitality Blast and the County Championship again. 

"In his time with Essex, his outstanding leadership and interpersonal skills were a major factor in taking our cricket to the next level," John Faragher, Essex chairman, told the county's official website.

 

Moving on up

Silverwood's work with Essex unsurprisingly led to a job with England, as he was appointed bowling coach in 2017.

Working as part of Bayliss' staff, he was involved in the successful Cricket World Cup campaign on home soil earlier this year, with the tournament hosts aided by the emergence of Jofra Archer.

However, Silverwood has remained very much in the background, rarely talking to the media. Still, his work – and his words – were enough to convince the powers that be when it came to the main job.

"Chris demonstrated in his interview a clear understanding and strategy of how both the red and white ball teams need to evolve. He has some detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments," Ashley Giles, managing director of the England team, said in a statement.

"Over the past couple of years, he has been an integral member of developing the teams’ culture and emerging a cohesive relationship across the team's management group."

Giles' quotes contained two key words - "Ashes" and "culture".

England have undoubtedly prioritised white-ball cricket in recent years – and with great success, too – but a failure to beat Australia on home soil in Bayliss' final Test series in charge has shifted the longer format back into focus.

When it comes to culture, England's hierarchy have gone with a homegrown option. Australian Bayliss admitted he did not pay too much attention to county cricket – that will not be the case with Silverwood, who has a wealth of experience as both a player and a coach.

Yet Silverwood has also seen what exactly is required to prosper in the international game. To that extent, he also has an advantage in knowing how both Joe Root - who will work alongside his fellow Yorkshireman with the Test team - and white-ball specialist Eoin Morgan tick, having been part of the inner sanctum for a couple of years.

 

Planning for the future

A busy schedule, that’s what. International cricket is a non-stop treadmill, though the grind of games all-year round is nothing new to Silverwood.

While there is a Twenty20 World Cup coming up next year, England are a well-oiled machine in white-ball cricket. There may be players who emerge in the coming months to force their way in - just as Archer did once he was available - but the bulk of the group is already known, and Morgan is an experienced leader with clear plans on how his team should play.

So, as Silverwood said himself, Test cricket is to be the main focus.  In the near future, there are tours to New Zealand and South Africa coming up, but the long-term aim is winning the Ashes Down Under in 2021-22.

Archer has added some much-needed pace to go alongside England's leading two wicket-takers in James Anderson (fitness permitting) and Stuart Broad. On their last visit to Australia, the attack was distinctly lacking in terms of speed, such a crucial factor in conditions where swing is less of a factor.

The batting, though, requires serious work - less of a cosmetic job and more a case of knocking it down and starting again.

Silverwood needs to begin the rebuild at the top, with England desperately needing to establish a regular top three. Root looks set to return to four, while the talk from national selector Ed Smith after Jonny Bairstow was dropped for the New Zealand series suggests he should concentrate just on batting, rather than continuing behind the stumps.

Ben Stokes is a certainty in the middle order, but Silverwood has to be careful with overburdening the all-rounder.

As with others who play all formats, workload management will be key for Stokes. Being England coach is often about spinning plates, but the complexities of the job are nothing new for Silverwood, the quiet man who now gets the chance to set the tone after stepping out from the background.

Chris Silverwood has been appointed as England head coach.

Silverwood took over as England fast bowling coach under Trevor Bayliss early last year and it was announced on Monday he is the man to succeed the Australian.

Bayliss decided to bring his four-year reign, which included a Cricket World Cup triumph in July, to an end at the conclusion of the Ashes series last month.

Former India and South Africa coach Gary Kirsten had also been considered for the position, but the ECB's selection panel decided Silverwood was clearly the best option.

Director of England men's cricket Ashley Giles said: "We are delighted to confirm Chris as England men's head coach. We have gone through a thorough process and looked at all the options that were available to us. Chris was the standout candidate.

"I believe he is what we need to take our international teams forward. He is somebody we know well, but it is his intimate understanding of our structures and systems and his close relationships with Test captain Joe Root and white-ball captain Eoin Morgan that will help us develop our plans for the next few years.

"He has performed exceptionally well during his role as an assistant coach and has the ultimate respect of the players that have worked with him.

"Chris demonstrated in his interview a clear understanding and strategy of how both the red and white ball teams need to evolve. He has some detailed thoughts on what it will take to win the Ashes in Australia and win major ICC white-ball tournaments.

"Ultimately, his highest quality is that he is a winner and that will be an important part of the job as we look to strive to become the most respected team in the world across all formats."

Bayliss delivered on his brief of transforming England into a force in limited-overs cricket, that plan reaching its culmination as they dramatically won the World Cup on home soil.

However, England have struggled for consistency in Test cricket and failed to regain the urn in this year's Ashes, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Silverwood will soon have a chance to turn around England's fortunes in the longest format. England face New Zealand in two Tests, the first starting on November 21, after five T20 matches in their tour of the country.

A tour to South Africa follows, beginning at the end of the year, with Silverwood hopeful England can make it a positive start to his tenure.

"I am thrilled and honoured to be appointed England head coach," he said. "I aim to continue the great work that has been done over the past five years and build on our future, especially in the Test arena.

"I have enjoyed working with the players over the past two seasons and developing the best crop of talent in the English game.

"I am excited to get started and build teams that the whole game can be proud of. There is a tremendous amount of talent coming through and there is enormous potential for growth. The hard work starts now and I am confident we can make a positive impact during our winter tours of New Zealand and South Africa."

South Africa will consider adding an extra paceman to their attack for the second Test against India in Pune after suffering a 203-run defeat in Visakhapatnam.

Mohammed Shami took five of the nine wickets to fall on Sunday as the Proteas - requiring a notional 395 for victory - collapsed from 11-1 to 70-8 and were eventually dismissed for 191.

Prior to Shami's masterful exploitation of a wearing fifth-day pitch, there had been little assistance on offer for the seamers.

However, Lungi Ngidi or Anrich Nortje could be called upon by the tourists for next week's second Test, starting on Thursday, after spinners Dane Piedt and Senuran Muthusamy struggled to make an impact with the ball in support of fellow slow bowler Keshav Maharaj.

In a news conference, South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis said: "Apart from today [Sunday], seamers didn't play that much of a role in this Test match. They played a holding role in the first four days. Whether an extra seamer would have made a difference, I am not sure.

"But definitely day five, we saw that there was huge value in the seam, the up and down. It is something for us to consider moving into the next Test match."

Piedt and Muthusamy did at least impress with the bat, striking 56 and 49 not out respectively on the final day after the latter had also made an unbeaten 33 in the first innings of his debut Test.

Given Muthusamy was selected as an all-rounder rather than a frontline bowler, his position in the side looks more secure than that of Piedt.

"You can see technically he is very sound against spin, which is something he has worked really hard on," said Du Plessis of Muthusamy.

"Obviously he bowls a bit as well so that helps. Batting in that number seven or number eight position is always something we are looking for as a team.

"He batted with real maturity in both innings and is making it hard for us to leave him out of the second Test. He is putting the numbers on the scoreboard, which is what we want.

"It's about finding the balance - which are our best wicket-taking options? But also you definitely need to have one element of control in the sub-continent. Those are the conversations that we will have."

Virat Kohli was keen to highlight the impressive efforts of his bowlers after India completed a resounding 203-run victory over South Africa in the first Test at Visakhapatnam.

Any hopes the Proteas had of batting out the final day were effectively ended before lunch as they slumped from 11-1 to 70-8, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja each striking three times in the morning session with the latter's wickets all coming in one over.

Debutant Senuran Muthusamy (49 not out) and Dane Piedt (56) delayed the inevitable with a defiant ninth-wicket partnership of 91 but South Africa were still bowled out for 191 as Shami returned to complete a five-wicket haul.

There was also a landmark wicket for Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday. The off-spinner's dismissal of Theunis de Bruyn was his 350th in Tests and came after he had returned 7-145 in the Proteas' first innings.

India's opening batsmen played key roles in their win, with Mayank Agarwal compiling 215 across the first two days and Rohit Sharma making 176 and 127 in a stunning first Test at the top of the order.

Although South Africa replied to India's 502-7 declared with 431, the hosts' second-innings score of 323-4 laid the platform for a dominant win.

"When you put 500 on the board you are always ahead of the game," said Kohli in the post-match presentation. "I think Rohit was outstanding in both innings, Mayank along with him in the first innings, brilliant.

"The batting heroes were obvious, but I think the bowlers had it tougher in this game, to keep going with the conditions, so they deserve a lot of credit as well."

Kohli described the performances of Jadeja and Ashwin as "really, really good", before praising Shami for his superb final-day showing.

"Shami has been a strike bowler for us in the second innings consistently now," the captain added. "If you see all his four- and five-wicket hauls, they invariably come in the second innings when the team needs it. [When] the ball is reversing a bit, that's his strength."

Man of the match Rohit revealed he had been well-prepared for his first experience as a Test opener.

"A couple of years ago it was communicated to me that you might open at some stage, so I was prepared for it," he explained.

"Even in the nets whenever I was not playing a Test match, I would practice with the red ball, with the new ball. In my mind I was pretty much ready to have that opportunity any time.

"I wouldn't say it came to me as a surprise, I was ready for it. It was a great opportunity for me at the top of the order, doing it for the first time, so I just wanted to enjoy the moment. At the same time, I'm really thankful to the coach, captain and the selectors for giving me that opportunity."

Virat Kohli was keen to highlight the impressive efforts of his bowlers after India completed a resounding 203-run victory over South Africa in the first Test at Visakhapatnam.

Any hopes the Proteas had of batting out the final day were effectively ended before lunch as they slumped from 11-1 to 70-8, Mohammed Shami and Ravindra Jadeja each striking three times in the morning session with the latter's wickets all coming in one over.

Debutant Senuran Muthusamy (49 not out) and Dane Piedt (56) delayed the inevitable with a defiant ninth-wicket partnership of 91 but South Africa were still bowled out for 191 as Shami returned to complete a five-wicket haul.

There was also a landmark wicket for Ravichandran Ashwin on Sunday. The off-spinner's dismissal of Theunis de Bruyn was his 350th in Tests and came after he had returned 7-145 in the Proteas' first innings.

India's opening batsmen played key roles in their win, with Mayank Agarwal compiling 215 across the first two days and Rohit Sharma making 176 and 127 in a stunning first Test at the top of the order.

Although South Africa replied to India's 502-7 declared with 431, the hosts' second-innings score of 323-4 laid the platform for a dominant win.

"When you put 500 on the board you are always ahead of the game," said Kohli in the post-match presentation. "I think Rohit was outstanding in both innings, Mayank along with him in the first innings, brilliant.

"The batting heroes were obvious, but I think the bowlers had it tougher in this game, to keep going with the conditions, so they deserve a lot of credit as well."

Kohli described the performances of Jadeja and Ashwin as "really, really good", before praising Shami for his superb final-day showing.

"Shami has been a strike bowler for us in the second innings consistently now," the captain added. "If you see all his four- and five-wicket hauls, they invariably come in the second innings when the team needs it. [When] the ball is reversing a bit, that's his strength."

Man of the match Rohit revealed he had been well-prepared for his first experience as a Test opener.

"A couple of years ago it was communicated to me that you might open at some stage, so I was prepared for it," he explained.

"Even in the nets whenever I was not playing a Test match, I would practice with the red ball, with the new ball. In my mind I was pretty much ready to have that opportunity any time.

"I wouldn't say it came to me as a surprise, I was ready for it. It was a great opportunity for me at the top of the order, doing it for the first time, so I just wanted to enjoy the moment. At the same time, I'm really thankful to the coach, captain and the selectors for giving me that opportunity."

India completed a thumping 203-run win over South Africa in the first Test at Visakhapatnam, despite some valiant lower-order resistance from the tourists on day five.

Ninth-wicket pair Senuran Muthusamy and Dane Piedt put on 91 either side of lunch to delay the inevitable, after the Proteas had collapsed to 70-8 at the hands of Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami.

Piedt brought up his maiden half-century during the defiant stand, while debutant Muthusamy was left stranded on 49 not out when Shami (5-35) ousted Kagiso Rabada for 18 to complete his five-wicket haul and bring the contest to an end.

South Africa were dismissed for 191, the damage having been done in a dramatic morning session highlighted by Jadeja (4-87) claiming three wickets in one over.


While Shami and Jadeja were the final-day heroes for India, the hosts' position of dominance owed much to Rohit Sharma, who marked his first Test as an opener with twin hundreds, first-innings double-centurion Mayank Agarwal and Ravichandran Ashwin (7-145 in South Africa's first dig).

After resuming on 11-1, the tourists' slim hopes of batting out the final day were soon dented significantly as Ashwin cleaned up Theunis de Bruyn in the second over of the day to claim his 350th Test wicket in only his 66th match.

De Bruyn was the first of four South African batsmen in succession to be bowled, with Temba Bavuma (0), skipper Faf du Plessis (12) and Quinton de Kock (0) all falling to Shami as variable bounce made batting increasingly tricky.

Jadeja then took centre stage in the 27th over, first taking a return catch to dismiss Aiden Markram, who had dug in to make 39, before trapping Vernon Philander and Keshav Maharaj lbw with successive balls.

To their credit, Muthusamy and Piedt battled through to lunch and then extended their partnership into the afternoon, the latter bringing up his first Test fifty from 86 balls with eight fours and a six.

It took the return of Shami to finally break the stand, the experienced paceman bowling Piedt with the first ball of a new spell.

Last man Rabada thumped four boundaries but he too fell victim to Shami, denying Muthusamy a half-century.

The second of three Tests starts at Pune on Thursday.

India all-rounder Hardik Pandya has vowed to be "back in no time" after undergoing lower back surgery.

Pandya was stretchered off after damaging his back during an Asia Cup encounter with Pakistan in September 2018.

The 25-year-old recovered to take his part in the Cricket World Cup, but did not feature in the tour of West Indies after the tournament in England and Wales. 

Pandya returned in the home Twenty20 International series against South Africa last month, but now faces a period of rehabilitation after going under the knife in London.

A BCCI press release stated: "Hardik Pandya complained of lower back pain after India's final T20I against South Africa in Bengaluru on 22nd September.

"The BCCI Medical Team consulted a panel of spine specialists in England and they recommended surgery for a long-term solution of this issue.

"The all-rounder travelled to London on 2nd October with Team India physiotherapist Mr Yogesh Parmar. On Friday, a successful surgery was conducted. Hardik will soon commence his rehabilitation process."

Pandya tweeted: "Surgery done successfully. Extremely grateful to everyone for your wishes. Will be back in no time! Till then miss me."

Rohit Sharma scored his second century in the match before Ravindra Jadeja picked up a late wicket on day four to boost India's hopes of victory in the first Test. 

Opener Rohit followed up his 176 in the first innings with 127 on Saturday to help set up a declaration, with the visitors reaching stumps on 11-1 in pursuit of an unlikely victory target of 395. 

The Proteas lost first-innings centurion Dean Elgar for two in fading light, Jadeja getting the late breakthrough with the aid of DRS after his lbw appeal was initially rejected by on-field umpire Richard Illingworth. 

Aiden Markram was unbeaten on three while Theunis de Bruyn was five not out at the close, though the tourists will have to survive a final-day trial by spin if they are to escape Visakhapatnam unscathed. 

Rohit launched seven sixes in his ton, meaning he has now hit the most for his country in all three formats of the game, to take his tally for the match to 13, in the process beating Wasim Akram's record for a single Test. 

The more patient Cheteshwar Pujara contributed 81 during a second-wicket stand of 169 for the hosts, who had been frustrated by South Africa's tail in the morning session before Ravichandran Ashwin claimed the final two wickets in the Proteas' first innings to finish with 7-145. 

Senuran Muthusamy ended up unbeaten on 33 as he combined with Keshav Maharaj (9) and Kagiso Rabada (15) to lift their side's final total to 431, limiting India's advantage to 71 runs. 

Mayank Agarwal (7) was an early casualty for India but they steadily built on their advantage on a pitch providing plenty of assistance to the slow bowlers. 

Rohit became only the second India opener to score centuries in both innings – following in the footsteps in the Sunil Gavaskar – as he moved through the gears, his onslaught eventually ended when he was stumped off Maharaj. 

Promoted up the order following Pujara's departure, Jadeja cleared the boundary three times himself to make 40, while captain Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane were 31 and 27 not out when the former declared at 323-4. 

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