Rohit Sharma completed his first Test double hundred and Ajinkya Rahane added a century of his own as India moved into complete control of the third Test in Ranchi.

Starting day two on 224-3, India piled on the runs to declare on 497-9 and then reduced South Africa to 9-2 before bad light prematurely halted Sunday's action.

Rohit rapidly progressed his overnight total of 117 and reached a double century for the first time in the longest form of the game, having previously done so three times in ODIs.

His total had reached 212 from 255 deliveries when he finally fell to Kagiso Rabada, while Rahane moved from 83 to complete his 11th Test hundred with an innings of 115.

Bad light meant only five overs of South Africa's reply were possible, but that was enough for India to put the tourists in complete disarray after openers Dean Elgar (0) and Quinton de Kock (4) were removed.

Captain Faf du Plessis (1 not out) and Zubayr Hamza (0no) will return to the crease on Monday with their side right up against it in their efforts to avoid a 3-0 series whitewash.

The fourth-wicket partnership between Rohit and Rahane had reached 267 before Rahane finally fell shortly before lunch, caught behind after some sharp turn earned George Linde his first Test wicket, the debutant then going on to claim figures of 4-133.

Rohit smashed 28 fours along with six maximums, one of which got him to his double ton after he went into lunch tantalisingly close on 199. His brilliant effort came to an end when he was caught at fine leg when trying to take on Rabada (3-85).

Ravindra Jadeja scored 51 and Umesh Yadav whacked five sixes in an explosive 31 from just 10 balls as useful partnerships right down the India order ensured the hosts were just shy of 500 before Virat Kohli opted to declare.

Mohammed Shami dismissed Elgar for a duck with only the second ball of the innings in a dreadful start for the Proteas.

De Kock followed in the next over when he was unable to cope with a short ball from Yadav, wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha claiming his second catch as India piled on the pressure.

Batting coach Vikram Rathour says having an in-form Rohit Sharma at the top of the order changes the dynamic of the India side after he made another century on day one of the third Test against South Africa.

Rohit was unbeaten on 117 and Ajinkya Rahane 83 not out when stumps were drawn due to bad light, with India on 224-3 as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash after being reduced to 39-3 in Ranchi on Saturday.

The selectors promoted Rohit to open for the first time in the longest format in the series against the Proteas and the 32-year-old has grasped his opportunity, making three hundreds.

Rathour has been impressed with the application Rohit has shown following his promotion and always felt there should be a place for the dangerous right-hander in all three formats.

"He is such an experienced player I don't think you needed to do anything with his technique, the only adjustment I think he had to make was his game plans," said Rathour

"In Test cricket you need to play through those tough spells and I think he's doing that really well in this series.

"If he can keep doing that, once he's set, then he is a phenomenal player - we all know that - he can really punish you. He needed to make that mental adjustment to his game plans and he's done that well. 

"I always said he's too good a player not to be playing in any format, so I think it was a good call to get him to open and with the amount of runs scored of course, I think he has settled the issue for the time being.

"Somebody with his experience and the kind of cricket he plays, if he starts coming good for you at the top of the order that changes everything for the Indian dynamic - even when you are touring."

 

Rohit Sharma made his third century of the series and Ajinkya Rahane was also closing in on a hundred as India hit back after a poor start on day one of the third Test against South Africa in Ranchi.

Kagiso Rabada took two early wickets in a magnificent new-ball spell and India - who gave a debut to Shahbaz Nadeem - were 39-3 when Anrich Nortje removed Virat Kohli for 12.

That was as good as it got for a Proteas side that included five changes - with Heinrich Klaasen and George Linde handed Test bows - as an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 185 between Rohit (117 not out) and Rahane (83no) put India in control.

Rohit punished the Proteas attack with a combination of exquisite timing and power in his new role at the top of the order and Rahane played with great fluency in a classy knock.

India were 224-3 when bad light brought play to a premature end as they bid to secure a 3-0 whitewash.

Rabada (2-54) roared in to raise South Africa's spirits after their hammering in Pune last week, the in-form Mayank Agarwal (10) edging the paceman to Dean Elgar at third slip off the final ball of the fifth over.

Cheteshwar Pujara soon followed without scoring when he was struck on the back pad and given leg before wicket, with Rabada then denied a third wicket as Rohit overturned an lbw decision.

Nortje claimed the huge scalp of Kohli, who made a Test-best 254 not out last week, by getting one to nip back in and strike the skipper bang in front.

Rohit and Rahane saw India through to 71-3 at lunch and played with great freedom as the runs flowed in the afternoon session, Rabada twice taken for 13 in an over.

The aggressive Rohit and Rahane attacked Dane Piedt and the opener reached three figures for the sixth time in the longest format by disdainfully dispatching the spinner for one of four sixes in his imperious knock.

Rahane also lofted Piedt down the ground for six, while Linde bowled with reasonable control, but the breakthrough was not forthcoming and only 58 overs had been bowled when stumps were drawn under dark clouds.

Michael Leitch declared "the end is not here" as Japan plot another sensational defeat of South Africa in their first Rugby World Cup quarter-final on Sunday.

The hosts reached the last eight for the first time with a 28-21 victory over Scotland in a decisive match in Yokohama last weekend.

Japan avoided New Zealand by topping Pool A but face a huge test against the Springboks at Tokyo Stadium.

The Brave Blossoms pulled off one of the great sporting upsets by beating the two-time champions in Brighton at the last World Cup four years ago and captain Leitch says history can repeat itself.

"We're not satisfied; the end is not here," the number eight said.

"We'll play in the last eight and have another chance to show our game to our people. Each of us are playing to have more of that opportunity.

"South Africa looked really scary at the start of the week, but we begin to feel really excited as we understand the game and think about how to break them down. That fear gradually fades and confidence rises."

Japan were thrashed 41-7 by the Rugby Championship holders in a pre-tournament Test last month and Springboks captain Siya Kolisi says that served as a small measure of revenge. 

"That was very tough to lose that match in England. That stuck with us until that game when we got here [before this World Cup]," the flanker said. "It's something that we never want to go through again."

He added: "They are a much better team now, and it was good to play that game before the World Cup, just to get that monkey off our back.

"Now it's a different game again. We are going to have to be at our best again, because they have really improved as a team - they are much better now than four years ago. So we are looking forward to the challenge."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan – Michael Leitch

The inspirational Leitch and his opposite number Kolisi are set for another monumental battle, while also keeping calm heads and ensuring their sides stay disciplined with so much at stake. 

Leitch will need to lead by example again after an inspired display against Scotland.

South Africa - Cheslin Kolbe

Kolbe missed the Springboks' final pool match against Canada as a precautionary measure after taking a blow to his ankle in the victory over Italy.

The livewire wing claimed a clinical double in the 49-3 drubbing of the Azzurri and also touched down twice in the warm-up rout of Japan, so the hosts must be wary of the threat he poses.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Japan's victory over South Africa in England was their first against a tier one nation in the tournament at their 16th attempt.
- South Africa scored more tries (27) and points (185) than any other side in the pool stage. Japan scored have scored only 13 tries en route to the last eight. 
- Japan made 559 metres against Scotland, the third time in the tournament they had made 500 plus metres in a match.
- Springboks wing Kolbe averaged 12.8 metres per carry in the pool stage, the best rate of any player to make at least 10 carries.
- South Africa won all of their 47 line-outs on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to have a 100 per cent success rate.

Such was the scale of Japan's Rugby World Cup victory over South Africa four years ago, they made a movie - 'The Brighton Miracle' - to commemorate one of the great sporting upsets.

There will surely be a sequel on the way after this year's Brave Blossoms reached the quarter-finals for the first time by beating Scotland, and box-office sales could soar through the roof if history repeats itself on Sunday when they face the Springboks again.

South Africa will start the last-eight contest as overwhelming favourites to gain revenge, with their star-studded cast including Cheslin Kolbe, Faf de Klerk and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Japan also have no shortage of talent to play leading roles and will be backed by a raucous crowd when they attempt to break new ground once again on home soil.

As the Boks plot to spoil the party for their hosts, we reflect on how Japan pulled off a monumental shock at the last World Cup in England, as well as looking at the prospects of lightning striking twice.

 

Hesketh and Goromaru rock Boks

Japan were not given a prayer in the opening Pool B match given Zimbabwe were the only team they had previously beaten in a World Cup match – and that win was way back in 1991.

Yet Eddie Jones' side humiliated a vastly experienced Springboks team with their exciting brand of rugby, coming from behind to secure the most dramatic and unlikely of victories.

Karne Hesketh crossed right at the death and Ayumu Goromaru claimed a 24-point haul to leave the two-time champions not knowing what had hit them following a 34-32 loss.

 

Meyer fronts up to 'Boklash'

Heyneke Meyer came under fire after his side lost the plot and rampant Japan made them pay.

The then-head South Africa coach said: "I have to apologise to the nation. It was just not good enough. It was unacceptable and I take full responsibility.

"Every game is going to be tough but there are no excuses."

 

Jones: I had to look at the scoreboard

Jones, who landed the England job after his success with Japan in 2015, was pinching himself after the underdogs snatched victory with their last throw of the dice. 

The Australian said: "Japan beating South Africa? I had to look at the scoreboard at the end just to see if it was true or not. We kept hanging in there. It looked at one stage when they got seven points ahead that they would run away with it.

"That would have been the normal scenario, like the horror story where the woman goes for a shower after midnight and you know what's going to happen. Normally they would score three or four, it ends up 50-20 and everyone says, 'Well done Japan, you tried hard, you were brave'. But we were more than brave."

 

What happened next?

Jones said the objective for Japan was to go on and reach the quarter-finals after downing the two-time champions, but they fell agonisingly short.

A heavy defeat to Scotland turned out to be crucial as Japan finished third in Pool B after failing to pick up any bonus points.

South Africa, Scotland and the Brave Blossoms all won three and lost one of their four games, but it was Japan who missed out.

 

Hope springs eternal for revenge-seeking Boks

Although Japan are riding on the crest of a wave as they prepare for their first World Cup knockout match, South Africa have looked formidable despite making a losing start against New Zealand.

Potent in attack and solid in defence, the Springboks have turned their fortunes around under Rassie Erasmus and dethroned the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship.

They also hammered Japan 41-7 in a pre-tournament warm-up match and is it hard to envisage them suffering another upset at the hands of their next opponents.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis joked he is considering sending another player to the toss for the third Test against India as he aims to correct his side's recent woes.

The Proteas are 2-0 down in the series after suffering heavy defeats in Visakhapatnam and Pune.

With the three-match series already lost, South Africa head to Ranchi looking to restore some pride as a frustrating 2019 draws closer towards a conclusion.

Du Plessis cited winning the toss as a crucial factor but, with South Africa having lost their last nine coin-flips on Asian soil going back to 2015, failing to win any of the subsequent Tests – the Proteas' skipper conceded he might have to send out a substitute in order to change their luck.

"We've felt that we've done it [compete] in stages, more probably in the first Test, so hoping that we can start with the toss tomorrow," Du Plessis told reporters.

"Probably I will [send] somebody else to the toss, I'll give you that, because my record so far hasn't been great, and then, yeah, if we put big runs on the board in the first innings, that's where we need to start."

Du Plessis also acknowledged his side – who lost the first Test by 203 runs and the second by an innings – can only regain confidence by taking the fight to India.

"It is tough when you're losing," he said.

"For us, we're very, very competitive people, so it does take a dent out of your confidence, but international sport is supposed to be hard, and the guys who've stayed at the top for a long time will tell you that it comes with ups and it comes with downs, personally and from a team point of view.

"So it's important for us to understand that we have to fight our way out of these last two losses. We can't expect things just to happen."

South Africa's task has been made harder by the absence of batsman Aiden Markram, who will miss the final Test due to a wrist injury he sustained while "lashing out at a solid object" following his second-innings dismissal in Pune.

Jamie Joseph has made just one change heading into Japan's first appearance in a Rugby World Cup quarter-final, as Ryohei Yamanaka returns to the fold.

Full-back Yamanaka switched with William Tupou throughout the pool stage, with the latter starting against Scotland as the hosts secured their place in a World Cup knockout stage for the first time.

However, Tupou suffered a head injury 51 minutes into the triumph over Gregor Townsend's side and does not feature in the 23 for Sunday's showdown with in-form South Africa.

Yamanaka replaced Tupou against Scotland and the 31-year-old will start in Tokyo, with the only other changes coming among the replacements.

Amanaki Lelei Mafi had not featured since going off against Ireland, but Joseph is able to welcome the number eight back into the squad.

Wimpie van der Walt and Lomano Lemeki have been recalled to the bench, with Uwe Helu and Hendrik Tui missing out.

Jiwon Koo had been a doubt after sustaining a rib injury against Scotland but has been passed fit to start.

Kotaro Matsushima is tied with Wales' Josh Adams at the top of the try scoring charts with five, and starts again at right wing, while the tournament's leading points scorer Yu Tamura - he has 48 - is at fly half.


Japan: Ryohei Yamanaka, Kotaro Matsushima, Timothy Lafaele, Ryoto Nakamura, Kenki Fukuoka, Yu Tamura, Yutaka Nagare; Keita Inagaki, Shota Horie, Jiwon Koo, Luke Thompson, James Moore, Michael Leitch, Pieter Labuschagne, Kazuki Himeno.

Replacements: Atsushi Sakate, Isileli Nakajima, Asaeli Ai Valu, Wimpie van der Walt, Amanaki Lelei Mafi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Rikiya Matsuda, Lomano Lava Lemeki.

The Rugby World Cup enters the knockout phase this weekend, with Ireland looking to finally reach a semi-final and Japan bidding to cause another upset.

Joe Schmidt's team may have beaten two-time reigning champions New Zealand in two of their previous three meetings, but Ireland have a rotten record in World Cup quarter-finals.

Hosts Japan face South Africa – the team they stunned in the pool stage four years ago – in their first World Cup quarter-final, while Wales meet France and England take on an Australia side they have an excellent recent record against.

Here, we take a look at the Opta data for the four quarter-final clashes.

 

England v Australia

6 - England have dominated the Wallabies of late, winning each of their previous half a dozen meetings since Australian Eddie Jones was hired as head coach in 2015.

7 - No player won more turnovers than Maro Itoje's seven in the pool stage and the England forward only featured in two of his team's three matches.

29 - Jones' side averaged 29 kicks in play per game during the pool stage – the most of any team – while Australia, with 13, averaged the fewest.

New Zealand v Ireland

7 - Ireland are in their seventh World Cup quarter-final and have lost all of their previous six matches at this stage – the joint most last-eight losses, along with Scotland.

17 - The All Blacks have won a record 17 consecutive World Cup games coming into this encounter – a run that dates back to a quarter-final defeat to France in 2007.

29 - New Zealand have scored a try in each of their last 29 World Cup matches, last failing to do so in 2003.

Wales v France

8 - In the eight meetings between these two nations since Les Bleus beat Wales in the 2011 World Cup semi-finals, Warren Gatland's team have won seven times. Only the All Blacks have beaten France more often in that span (10 times).

4 - Wales won all four of their pool-stage matches for the first time since 1987. They have never won five World Cup games in a row.

6 - Since the start of 2018, France have lost six Tests in which they have been leading at half-time – the most such defeats of any side in that time. One of those came against Wales when they were 16 points ahead at the interval.

Japan v South Africa

3 - Japan's 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup was their first over a Tier One nation. Since then they have won two of their three games against such opponents, beating Ireland and Scotland in this tournament.

5 - Kotaro Matsushima is one of the leading try-scorers at this World Cup, along with Wales wing Josh Adams, having crossed five times.

47 - The Springboks won 47 out of 47 lineouts on their own throw in the pool stage, the only side in the tournament to maintain a 100 per cent success rate.

Aiden Markram will miss South Africa's third Test against India with a fractured wrist sustained when the opener "lashed out at a solid object".

The 25-year-old was dismissed for a pair in Pune as the Proteas crashed to an innings-and-137-run loss in the second Test last week.

India claimed an unassailable 2-0 lead in the best-of-three-match series and Markram will not be available for the dead rubber having suffered a fracture when he struck an object in frustration at his poor performance.

"It's sad to be going home on this note and I completely understand what I've done is wrong and take full accountability for it," Markram said.

"It's unacceptable in a Proteas environment and to let the team down is what hurts me the most. I've learned a lot from this and the other players I'm sure have learned from it as well.

"We understand in sport that emotions run high and sometimes the frustration gets the better of you as it did for me, but like I said, it's no excuse. I've taken full responsibility for it, I have apologised to the team and hopefully I can make it up to them and the people of South Africa soon."

Markram made a combined 46 in the two innings of the first Test, meaning he ends the series with an average of 11.

South Africa have not called up a replacement for the third Test, which begins on Saturday.

Cheslin Kolbe has been declared fit for South Africa's Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan after overcoming an ankle injury.

The star winger missed the Springboks' final pool match against Canada but has been restored to the side for Sunday, as coach Rassie Erasmus opts for the team that defeated Italy 49-3 a fortnight ago.

It means 13 changes are made from the team that hammered Canada last weekend with hat-trick hero Cobus Reinach left out of the 23-man-squad completely.

Duane Vermeulen wins cap number 50 as a number eight for the Springboks.

Sunday's clash is a repeat of the 2015 World Cup Group B clash where Japan stunned the two-time champions with a 34-32 win in Brighton and Erasmus was looking forward to another tough challenge from the hosts.

"We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build that," he said during Thursday's team announcement.

"We have been improving and building momentum this season and will be looking for further improvement this weekend.

"Japan are a well-coached team and have deservedly climbed to seventh in the world. It will be a good challenge but we're definitely up for it."

A place in the semi-finals next Sunday is at stake, with the winner of South Africa and Japan facing off against either Wales or France.

South Africa: Willie le Roux, Cheslin Kolbe, Lukanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Tendai Mtawarira, Mbongeni 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.

Japan's players will be inspired by the memory of Seiji Hirao when they face South Africa in an eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup quarter-final at the weekend.

Former Japan captain and head coach Hirao – nicknamed "Mr Rugby" in his homeland – died three years ago this Sunday aged 53 after a battle with cancer.

Full-back Ryohei Yamanaka played under Hirao, who represented the Brave Blossoms at the 1987, 1991 and 1995 World Cup, at Kobe Steelers.

"[The quarter-final] is the date he passed away, so there'll be a game on an important day for me as well," he said.

Japan's scrum coach Shin Hasegawa was handed his international breakthough by Hirao during his playing days.

"I'm a bit emotional talking about Hirao," he added. "He was the one who picked me for the national team, he was the one who played me. We have a game on a special day. I hope we can pay him back.

"The best memory is receiving a letter in my room a day before our opening match in the 2003 World Cup. It wasn't that long but had things that encouraged me and made me feel, 'I need to fight for this man'. 

"I remember heading into the game with a good motivation. I asked him one time why I was chosen and he said, 'For the scrum, of course', so I really focused on it. He really kept his eyes on me and was a great coach."

Japan stunned the Springboks with a 34-32 victory at the 2015 World Cup and hooker Atsushi Sakate explained they are leaving no stone unturned in pursuit of a repeat – combining brain and brawn.

"Our psychologist, Dave [David Galbraith] makes quizzes and writes them on the whiteboard," he explained.

"It is part of the training focusing on how to use your brain under pressure and in tough situations.

"It was started at our training camp in Abashiri. You have to make decisions during the toughest time during the match. You use your brain.

"That is why it was put up when we had tough weightlifting training."

Willie le Roux is confident South Africa have enough speed of their own to cope with Japan's "Ferraris".

That was the nickname given to Japan fliers Kenki Fukuoka and Kotaro Matsushima by head coach Jamie Joseph, whose side have been the surprise package on home soil at the Rugby World Cup.

Japan's attacking brand of rugby yielded shock wins over Ireland and Scotland, the latter seeing the Brave Blossoms top Pool A to set up a quarter-final with the Springboks, who they upset in the group stages four years ago.

South Africa are no slouches themselves, though, with Cheslin Kolbe and Makazole Mapimpi providing pace and threat out wide.

Le Roux, who brought laughter among the press pack by describing himself as a "bakkie" – a type of pickup truck – is eager to face the challenge.

"We've definitely got a few Ferraris out there as well," Le Roux said. "I don't think I'm one of them – I'm more of a bakkie person – a Toyota bakkie.

"The guys who will play this weekend are fast, and if I get an opportunity to play as well, I will do my best to put them away and put them in space."

The 30-year-old full-back is expecting a daunting challenge against Japan's varied attack.

"For the back three, it is going to be very hard work," he added. 

"They put all those kicks in and have specific guys chasing. They are very fast out wide, chasing those balls.

"The guys playing in the back three will have to be awake and be alive to those kicks."

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