Handre Pollard anticipates South Africa's Rugby World Cup semi-final with Wales will be settled by kicking, as he relishes the task of going up against Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar.

Wales were dealt a blow on Thursday when Liam Williams was ruled out of the match due to injury, with Halfpenny coming in at full-back for Sunday's clash in Yokohama.

However, while the Six Nations champions have lost a key player in the form of Williams, Halfpenny is an expert kicker, while Biggar has also been in fine form with the boot.

Springboks' fly half Pollard has not had the same luck, converting 12 of his 19 attempts at goal, and acknowledged his own kicking must improve if Rassie Erasmus' side – who will be without influential wing Cheslin Kolbe – are to make it into the final.

"[Halfpenny] is a world-class goal-kicker, we all know that," Pollard said in a news conference.

"We all know it's going to probably come down to a kick or a drop goal. It's semi-final rugby, so you must try your best to be on target with every kick. If it's not to be, it's not to be."

South Africa defeated Wales in the 2015 quarter-finals, with Biggar a standout performer at Twickenham.

"We went at it four years ago, and I thought [Biggar] had a brilliant game that day. We really had to play well to win that match," Pollard added.

"He is a world-class player, unbelievably good. He is really not scared of the physical part of the match, and that's something that excites both of us. It's going to be fun to go against him for 80 minutes.

"[Wales] know what they are good at and focus on that. They are relentless in those areas. They starve you of possession and territory and enforce their kicking game on you. They take away your set-piece.

"It's not a gameplan or rugby with a lot of flair in it, but it's suffocating. If you fall into that trap, they will enforce their gameplan on you for 80 minutes and you will probably not win.

"It's going to be two sides tactically trying to figure each other out. We have a couple of plans up our sleeves."

Warren Gatland wants the doubters to keep writing off Wales ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final battle with South Africa on Sunday.

The Six Nations champions are underdogs for the last-four showdown in Yokohama City, where they will be striving to reach the final for the first time.

Wales left it late to beat 14-man France at the quarter-final stage last weekend and must do without full-back Liam Williams (ankle) and flanker Josh Navidi (hamstring) against the Springboks.

Centre Jonathan Davies has been passed fit after a knee problem, though, and head coach Gatland is optimistic his side can defy the odds to earn a shot at the Webb Ellis Cup.

"The nice thing about being out here is that you are kind of in a bubble and you are not seeing a lot of the stuff externally." Gatland said.

Even though Wales have got the better of the Boks more often than not in recent years, Gatland is not blind to the fact there are some who dismiss his team's chances of going any further in this tournament.

"If they continue to do that over the next couple of days that would be brilliant. Please continue to do that as it does get us up when people write us off," Gatland said.

"I can't understand why people would write us off when our record against South Africa has been pretty good in the last four or five years. That speaks for itself.

"Going into Sunday’s game it is going to be a tight game and we saw that the first half in South Africa v Japan was a tight game. It will probably be a kicking fest, they kicked 30 times against Japan so we just have got to handle their game.

"It won't be the prettiest game in the world, it will be a tight Test match with probably teams playing for territory depending on what the weather is like."

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who replaced wing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle) with Sbu Nkosi, is well aware of the threat Wales will pose but says the Rugby Championship holders are ready to send them packing.

"Wales are the reigning Six Nations champions and apart from three defeats in their Rugby World Cup warm-ups, they have put together a really good sequence of results. But we've also found some rhythm and we’ll be ready for the challenge." said Erasmus.

"We have been working hard for 18 months to put ourselves in a position to win the Rugby World Cup and that opportunity is now just 80 minutes away. These players have worked with unbelievable energy to get Springbok rugby back into this position and I know they will leave nothing out on the field on Sunday."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Leigh Halfpenny

Halfpenny has started only one game in the tournament, against Uruguay, and played barely 20 minutes in his other appearance off the bench in the hammering of Georgia. The full-back will be tested under the high ball on Sunday, and Wales will need the 30-year-old to draw on all of his vast experience and skill in an unexpected start as he replaces the injured Williams.

 

South Africa – Faf de Klerk

De Klerk was named man of the match for a typically influential quarter-final performance against Japan. The scrum-half was a bundle of energy in defence and attack, and the Wales forwards must try to prevent the pivot from getting quick ball.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Wales have won five of their last six Tests against South Africa, coming out on top in the last four.

- South Africa have won both World Cup matches against Wales, beating them 17-16 in the 2011 pool stages and 23-19 in the 2015 quarter-finals.

- The Springboks have conceded just three tries in their five matches, two of which came in the defeat to New Zealand in their opening pool stage game.

- Dan Biggar needs 14 points to become the first Wales player to score 100 Rugby World Cup points.

- South Africa have scored more tries (30) and points (211) than any other side in the tournament.

Liam Williams' injury-enforced absence from the Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa is "a big loss" for Wales, but Warren Gatland does not think his team is any weaker.

An ankle injury sustained in an accidental collision during training ruled Williams out for the remainder of the tournament in Japan, with Leigh Halfpenny taking his place in the XV for Sunday's match in Yokohama.

However, Gatland stated Halfpenny had been close to earning a starting spot regardless and believes his experience will be an important boost for Wales.

"[Williams] is undoubtedly a big loss from an attacking perspective and what he has achieved in the game in the last year or so," said Gatland.

"But bringing in the experience of someone like Leigh Halfpenny gives us a different element.

"He is defensively probably the best full-back in the world in terms of his aerial game and coverage defensively.

"We had a long debate about whether we started Leigh in the first place and potentially move Liam to the wing.

"There was a long discussion about that so Leigh was probably unlucky he was not in the team in the first place.

"We are disappointed for a world-class player like Liam but we are happy bringing in someone with the experience of Leigh.

"It is a change but we don't think that we are weakening the side in any way with the changes we have made."

Jonathan Davies will start at centre after overcoming a knee injury and Gatland is pleased to have him available for the first time since the pool stage win over Fiji.

"We hope he is fit. He has come through training this week," said Gatland. "He was very close last week and he made a decision last week to rule himself out for the betterment of the team.

"Hopefully we can get through the rain today with the training and it won't affect us too much.

"We will have a shorter session this afternoon and we are excited where we are at the moment."

South Africa were dealt an injury blow of their own with livewire wing Cheslin Kolbe missing out after aggravating an ankle injury in the quarter-final success over Tokyo.

"Obviously he is a big loss to them with his ability to score tries and his footwork," Gatland said of Kolbe, for whom Sbu Nkosi will deputise.

"We were probably going to target him aerially anyway. You talk about their kicking game, I think our kicking game has to be good as well. They definitely have a bit of pace in the back three.

"At this stage of the tournament, you are always going to lose a couple of quality players, and in them losing Kolbe and us losing Liam Williams, it's probably one each in terms of that."

South Africa stand in the way of Wales and a first Rugby World Cup final appearance when they do battle in Yokohama on Sunday.

Wales have twice suffered the agony of a semi-final defeat, losing to New Zealand in 1987 and France in 2011.

South Africa won both of their previous World Cup encounters with Wales and have looked ominous in Japan as they attempt to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for a third time. 

We pick out some Key Opta facts ahead of the second semi-final as the Six Nations champions and Rugby Championship winners eye a showdown with England or the All Blacks.

 

5 - Wales have won five of their last six Tests against South Africa, coming out on top in the last four meetings.

3 - South Africa have conceded just three tries in five games during the tournament - two of which came in their defeat to New Zealand.

12 - Wales have conceded more tries (12) in the World Cup than their previous two campaigns combined (10).

30 - The Springboks have scored more tries (30) and points (211) than any other side in the tournament.

86 - Dan Biggar needs 14 points to become the first Wales player to score 100 World Cup points. Neil Jenkins leads the way with 98 and Stephen Jones notched 95.

32 - South Africa have won 32 of 34 World Cup games in which they have led at half-time.

Warren Gatland had mixed news on the injury front as he named the Wales team for their Rugby World Cup semi-final, welcoming back Jonathan Davies but forced to do without Liam Williams.

Wales face South Africa in Yokohama on Sunday looking to reach the World Cup final for the first time.

Davies is back in Gatland's XV after missing the narrow last-eight victory over France with a recurrence of an earlier knee injury.

However, Williams is out of this clash and the remainder of the tournament due to a training-ground injury.

Wales reported Williams had suffered the blow to his ankle in an accidental collision and a prognosis was still to be established.

That blow sees Leigh Halfpenny come into the side at full-back, joining Josh Adams and George North in the back three.

Wales had already lost Josh Navidi to a torn hamstring against France, meaning Ross Moriarty's inclusion is the third and final change to the side.

Gatland's men will be led by Alun Wyn Jones, who is earning his 142nd Test cap - including nine for the British and Irish Lions.

He moves to joint-second on the all-time worldwide list, tied with Italy's Sergio Parisse behind former All Black Richie McCaw (148).

Gareth Davies gets his 50th cap.


Wales team: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Aaron Shingler, Tomos Williams, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin.

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has hailed Wales head coach Warren Gatland as a "legend" ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final showdown on Sunday.

Gatland masterminded a Grand Slam triumph in the final Six Nations campaign of his tenure this year and stands on the brink of leading Wales into a first World Cup final.

Erasmus hailed the New Zealander, who will end his long reign after the tournament in Japan, as he prepares to pit his wits against the wily British and Irish Lions coach in Yokohama this weekend.

"Warren is an absolute legend of the game. You very seldom see him in a mouth fight and mudslinging before Test matches," said Erasmus.

"I've never been there having to reply to something he says, and he doesn't bite at you to create unnecessary nonsense before a Test match, so I've got a lot of respect for him as a person.

"His results on the field speak for themselves, with the Welsh team and the British and Irish Lions."

Erasmus made one enforced change to his side following an emphatic win over Japan, Sbu Nkosi replacing Cheslin Kolbe (ankle).

Gatland will be hoping Jonathan Davies is available to return after missing the quarter-final win over France with a knee injury, but Erasmus says they have enough quality to cope without the centre.

"They've almost got a southern hemisphere backline in terms of size." Erasmus said of the Six Nations champions.

"I know [Dan] Biggar is maybe not as big as other guys, but definitely busy. Hadleigh Parkes is a big guy, Davies is a physical guy. I think he was backline player of the tour in New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions.

"You've got [George] North, who is a big boy, and Liam Williams, who was always outstanding and physical. So, if they lose him [Davies], they will definitely lose a guy who is intimidating, who's got soft skills, experience.

"But then again, they've still got Liam there, Biggar, good guys off the bench, still got [Leigh] Halfpenny there.

"They've got a great pack of forwards, but their backline is a big threat. If they do lose him, they will lose somebody like we've lost Cheslin, but hell, they've got some great other players as well."

South Africa have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Rugby World Cup semi-final against Wales, with Cheslin Kolbe ruled out due to injury.

Livewire wing Kolbe tweaked the ankle injury that kept him out of the pool match against Canada when he returned to the team for the last-eight victory over Japan.

Sbu Noksi has consequently moved into the starting line-up for Sunday's match at Yokohama, the sole change to the 23 selected by Rassie Erasmus.

"It's disappointing not to have Cheslin available as he has been brilliant for us since we first called him up last year," said head coach Erasmus.

"But we really rate Sbu and he will slot straight in. I am as excited to see what he can do as I would be if Chessie were playing. Sbu has been very close to selection as it is."

Nkosi, who has scored eight tries in 10 Test appearances for the Springboks, featured in pool matches against Namibia and Canada, touching down against the latter.

By making no further changes, Erasmus once more has two backs and six forwards on the bench.

 

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, RG Snyman, Franco Mostert, Francois Louw, Herschel Jantjies, Frans Steyn.

Faf de Klerk has put the boot in on his social media critics as South Africa prepare to try and kick Wales out of the Rugby World Cup on Sunday. 

Scrum-half De Klerk was named man of the match after his starring role in the 26-3 quarter-final victory over tournament hosts Japan. 

That did not stop some Springboks supporters from calling on the playmaker to cut down on putting up the high balls ahead of a last-four showdown with the reigning Six Nations champions. 

De Klerk defended South Africa's tactics, however, pointing out they were effective in putting their opponents on the back foot. 

"We do kick a lot, but we try to read the game and the momentum. So, if you look at last weekend, we did kick a lot in the air, and Japan managed to contain our aerial battle," De Klerk said. 

"But if you look further than that, we managed to get so much territorial gain on them with our defence, with the guys being loaded on that. 

"It was a very positive outcome when we kicked. We did give them possession, but they rarely managed to do anything with it." 

On facing Wales, he added: "It is going to be a different challenge this week. I don't think we are going to have the same threats as that [Japan provided].

"It's all about seeing the space, and I feel our wings have come so far over the last two years. They are really competing well in the air.

"They [Wales] have got very good wingers, so it is going to be a massive battle in the air. We don't always go out with a set plan of me just going up and kicking.

"We do read the game, and I listen a lot to what Handre [Pollard] is telling me."

Faf du Plessis admits South Africa's humiliating Test series in India exposed plenty of "mental scars" for the Proteas.

Things started badly for the tourists in a 202-run hammering in the opening contest, before they were battered by an innings and 137 runs in the second match.

India showed absolutely no let up in Ranchi and took the final two wickets they needed on Tuesday to win the third and final Test by an innings and 202 runs.

Only five of South Africa's 16-man squad had previously played in India and Du Plessis feels a lack of experience was clear.

"When we play in the subcontinent, our style of bowling is not successful. You have to adapt your style to the style that is required," he said. 

"Obviously, someone like Dale Steyn was effective in the subcontinent because he has a similar skill set. He is a skiddy bowler off the pitch, hits the stumps, whereas if you are missing the stumps a lot or bouncing it over the stumps, it's not as effective here.

"Seam bowling is one area; spin they were better than us and from a batting unit, exceptional ruthlessness in the way they put massive scores on the board. 

"That's one of the reasons why mentally we were so weak towards the end. Obviously, they did bat first every time, which made it easier but they still put on 500, 500, 600 and the scoreboard pressure, the effect that it has on you mentally as a batting line-up, it takes a lot of energy and it takes a lot of toll. 

"You just feel like there's no opportunity or no moment in the game when you can hide. Your body is tired, your mind is tired and then you make mistakes.

"Our next journey is to try and make sure we get a lot stronger as a cricketing team mentally. As you can see, a tour like this reveals that there is a lot of mental scars that can happen and then obviously it's difficult to come out of the hole. 

"We played our best match in the first match and the consistent pressure that was on us made us weaker with every Test match that we played. 

"It tells me we are not mentally strong as a team and that some work is required in that department."

South Africa have lost a lot of experience, with Steyn and Hashim Amla among those to retire in 2019.

But Du Plessis, 35, will not relinquish his captaincy and is determined to unearth the next generation of Proteas leaders.

"How I see my journey unfolding with this team is to help with the transition period," he added. 

"That's something we spoke about before that wasn't necessarily the case before. Graeme Smith was a successful captain for a very long time and then after that, it was like, 'what now, who is going to captain the side, what's going to happen?' 

"This period is to try and make that process a bit smoother, identifying the next leaders, identifying the next captains, working with them, and then when that time is right, that time will be right."

Virat Kohli has called on India to adopt a model similar to England and Australia and host Test cricket at only five venues.

India wrapped up a resounding 3-0 series triumph over South Africa on Tuesday, taking the final two wickets they needed in the third contest to conclude victory by an innings and 202 runs.

All three matches against the Proteas took place at venues hosting Test cricket for just the second time in Visakhapatnam, Pune and Ranchi.

Kohli is all for mixing up venues in international cricket but feels the five-day format needs to played at regular stadiums.

"We've been discussing this for a long time now and in my opinion we should have five Test centres, period," Kohli said.

"I mean, I agree [with] state associations and rotation and giving games and all that, that is fine for T20 and one-day cricket, but Test cricket, teams coming to India should know, 'we're going to play at these five centres, these are the pitches we're going to expect, these are the kind of people that will come to watch, crowds'.

"So that becomes a challenge already, when you're leaving your shores, because we go to any place, we know we're having four Test matches in these venues, this is what the pitch is going to offer, it's going to be a full stadium, the crowd's behind the [home] team, and look, you want to keep Test cricket alive and exciting. I totally agree with the fact that we need five Test centres at the max.

"It can't be sporadic and spread over so many places where people turn up or they don't, so in my opinion, absolutely. You should have five strong Test centres that teams coming to India know that this is where they're going to play."

India completely dominated South Africa over the three Tests, winning the final two matches batting just one innings after opening with a 203-run rout.

Captain Kohli believes India's relentless willingness to improve is behind the success.

"We will always be put under pressure, always make mistakes, 11 guys can be vulnerable at times and can make mistakes but I think what is important is we keep a strong check on wanting to learn from the mistakes - we don't let things slide under the carpet," he added. 

"We address things there and then, even session wise, in an hour if we have given away too many runs the message at drinks is straight - 'not good enough, we need to pull our socks up'. 

"We don't wait for a session to be over and speak later because if another hour goes by you are letting the Test match go. 

"It's about addressing things there and then, more credit has to go to the players because they are willing to receive and be open to listening to things that need improving from a team point of view."

India needed just 12 balls on the fourth day in Ranchi to wrap up a comprehensive victory by an innings and 202 runs in the Third test and a maiden series whitewash of South Africa.

Shahbaz Nadeem removed Theunis de Bruyn and Lungi Ngidi with the final two balls of the second over to finish with four wickets on his debut and consign the Proteas to their heaviest loss to India, eclipsing the record set in the second Test in Pune.

The tourists added a solitary run to their overnight score of 132-8 before De Bruyn, a concussion substitute for Dean Elgar, edged behind for 30.

Ngidi failed to delay the inevitable, the tailender dismissed the following ball in a bizarre caught and bowled as his shot deflected off Anrich Nortje at the non-striker's end and presented Nadeem with a simple catch.

South Africa had been forced to bat again on Monday after crumbling to 162 all out in response to India's 497-9 declared.

India now have five wins from five in the World Test Championship and hold a commanding 180-point lead at the top of the table.

The Rugby World Cup semi-finals will feature the top four teams in world rugby after the rankings were updated following the quarter-finals.

England and South Africa, courtesy of their convincing wins over Australia and hosts Japan respectively, both climbed one place.

Eddie Jones' side moved above Wales into second, behind defending world champions New Zealand - who England face on Saturday - and the Springboks leapfrogged Ireland.

Six Nations champions Wales beat France 20-19, though even a larger margin of victory would not have kept them from dropping down to third.

Japan had risen to their highest ever ranking after Australia's defeat to England, but the Wallabies moved back into sixth after the Brave Blossoms' loss to South Africa.

France are seventh, with Japan eighth, ahead of Scotland and Argentina, who complete the top 10.

Despite their exit at the hands of South Africa, Japan have won over many fans at the World Cup, with coach Jamie Joseph believing his side are well on their way to becoming a top-five team.

"The team has worked incredibly hard for three years, and this year we worked harder than we've worked ever before," Joseph told a news conference.

"That's put us in a really good position to strive for our goals, which is making the top five in the world."

South Africa are on the verge of suffering a 3-0 series defeat to India after they were reduced to 132-8 in their follow-on enforced second innings in Ranchi. 

Having started day three of the final Test on 9-2, the Proteas were twice dismantled by India's rampant pace attack on Monday.

Zubayr Hamza's knock of 62 was the best South Africa had to offer in their first innings, as they were bowled out for 162, 335 runs shy of India's total.

Virat Kohli enforced the follow-on and India's pace attack - spearheaded by Mohammed Shami - once again made light work of the visitors' batting order.

Theunis de Bruyn (30 not out), a concussion substitute for Dean Elgar, offered some resistance, though India need just two wickets to round off a dominant series triumph with South Africa still 203 runs in arrears.

Things started as they would go on - South Africa captain Faf du Plessis (1) succumbing to a fine delivery from Umesh Yadav.

Hamza, with assistance from Temba Bavuma (32), managed to steady the ship somewhat, and amassed his first Test 50 with a sublime six over mid-on.

But Hamza's resistance was ended when, one delivery after he survived an India review, the 24-year-old was bowled by Ravindra Jadeja.

Bavuma followed in the next over and, after Heinrich Klaasen (6) went before lunch, South Africa collapsed after the restart, losing four wickets for 33 runs.

India were swiftly back on the wicket trail after enforcing the follow on - Yadav sending Quinton de Kock's (5) off-stump tumbling while Shami dismissed Hamza (0), Du Plessis (4) and Bavuma (0) in quick succession.

Elgar was forced to retire hurt after he was clattered on the helmet by Yadav and, though his replacement De Bruyn held firm, the Proteas could not stem the flow of wickets - Dane Piedt (23) and Kagiso Rabada (12) offering nothing more than short-lived cameos.

Rassie Erasmus was thankful South Africa "knew which buttons to push" to fend off the threat of another Rugby World Cup defeat to Japan.

After their stunning loss to the Brave Blossoms four years ago in Brighton, it was a different story at the Tokyo Stadium on Sunday as South Africa emerged 26-3 winners.

They will face Wales in the semi-finals next Sunday in Yokohama, and the Springboks were buoyant after seeing off familiar foes in the quarters.

But the lead had been just 5-3 at half-time, and Erasmus admitted: "We were nervous."

He and his coaching staff largely stayed out of dressing-room discussions, leaving it for the likes of captain Siya Kolisi to set minds at ease.

"Going in at half-time only being up a few points and leaving a few tries out there, there was definitely a little bit of a lull and a quietness in our changing room," Erasmus said.

"But I think, being together for 17 weeks, the guys knew which buttons to push to get ourselves out of that lull and come out and produce in the second half. We're very proud of that."

Makazole Mapimpi grabbed his second try of the game and man of the match Faf de Klerk also dotted down as South Africa gradually ground down the energetic hosts.

Erasmus praised the "intensity and tenacity" of Japan, suggesting they would be worthy additions to the Rugby Championship – currently contested by the Springboks, Australia, South Africa and Argentina – if logistics made it viable.

"I do know the brand they play is pretty exciting and it would really fit in," said Erasmus, calling it "a nice proposition" but stressing he had not been party to any such discussions.

Erasmus was thrilled with the defensive strength of his team, as they nullified Japan's attacking vibrancy when both Ireland and Scotland had succumbed.

"I think we trust our system really well and we know defence is a pretty important thing if you want to win a World Cup," Erasmus added in his post-match news conference.

The former Munster coach thinks his experience in the Pro14 competition, facing Welsh club sides, could be useful as South Africa when to clear the last hurdle before the final.

"I've got good hidings against Scarlets and those guys when I was coaching Munster, and good wins against them as well," he said.

"They are definitely a team with a lot of X factor, but one thing that strikes me about them ... is they've got a great coaching staff and I think they've created depth in every single position.

"They've got good confidence, great team spirit. It'll be a big challenge for us. Knowing the way the Welsh teams play may help me a little bit."

Rohit Sharma labelled his maiden Test double century as "probably the most challenging" innings he has played.

India took complete control of the third and final Test against South Africa on day two in Ranchi, with Rohit scoring 212 from 225 deliveries to help the hosts to 497-9 declared, the Proteas reaching stumps on 9-2 in reply.

Rohit, who had three double hundreds in ODIs but never in the five-day format, faced a nervy wait after lunch was called while he was on 199.

The 32-year-old, who has excelled at the top of the order having endured a stop-start Test career to date, then saw out a maiden over upon resumption before finally getting over the line with an excellent pull for six off Lungi Ngidi. 

Asked about his wait, Rohit said: "That's the nature of the game. You can't do anything about it. I wouldn't say it's frustrating. It's just the laws of the game. 

"The time [a session] has to finish, it has to finish on that time.

"From my side, I wasn't thinking about that at all. Because I knew the time will come and whenever it's supposed to happen, it will happen. I was just trying to be positive, think positive at that particular time. 

"I know it can be frustrating at times but there's nothing you can do about it. I just went back happy [at lunch], you know, 199 not out, I'd take that any day."

Rohit now has six centuries in Test cricket but conceded this was the toughest innings he has played.

"I haven't played much, I have played only 30 Test matches," he added. 

"Yes, in terms of what was thrown at me in this particular Test match, I would definitely say that it was probably the most challenging one."

India had stumbled to 39-3 on day one before Rohit was joined by Ajinkya Rahane, with the duo putting on an outstanding fourth-wicket stand of 267.

"We've seen Ajinkya for so many years, the way his Test career has progressed, and whenever the team has been in a difficult situation, he's come and rescued us," Rohit said. 

"This isn't something he's done just once or twice, he's done it in many innings. This shows how strong he is, mentally, and how much hunger he has, to be able to steer the team out of bad situations.

"We've seen it outside India, we've seen it in India as well, so Ajinkya's Test graph, it's climbing one step at a time, and there can't be anything better for the team, because if your middle order is strong, whatever situation comes, you're confident that one guy will always put his hand up and take the team forward."

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