KL Rahul's love affair with Centurion continues; slams gritty ton vs SA | Cricket - Hindustan Times

KL Rahul's love affair with Centurion continues as India star creates new century record with gritty 101 vs South Africa

Dec 27, 2023 02:49 PM IST

KL Rahul produced a brilliant knock in Centurion, bringing his 8th Test century during the opening Test against South Africa.

It was an innings laced with enormous composure and grit, as KL Rahul battled fierce spells and overcast conditions to notch his 8th Test century during the opening match of the series against South Africa in Centurion. This was his second three-figure mark in Tests at the venue, becoming the first overseas cricketer to achieve this feat. Rahul smashed his century in 133 balls, displaying a mix of defensive acumen and attacking prowess throughout his innings on the first and second day of the Test. Interestingly, this match is also Rahul's first as designated wicketkeeper-batter in Test cricket.

KL Rahul celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) during the second day of the first cricket Test match between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park in Centurion(AFP)
KL Rahul celebrates after scoring a century (100 runs) during the second day of the first cricket Test match between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park in Centurion(AFP)

Rahul arrived at the crease in a tricky situation, with India reeling at 92/4; the side had lost the key wicket of Shreyas Iyer (31) after a 68-run stand. Soon after his arrival, Virat Kohli (38) also departed, leaving Rahul as the sole designated batter in the lineup. On a tough surface at the Supersport Park, Rahul put faith in his game and forged key partnerships with the tailenders.

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He formed a 43-run partnership for the seventh wicket before Rabada struck again, dismissing Shardul Thakur, caught by Dean Elgar for 24. Despite the fall of wickets, Rahul continued to challenge the opposition, swiftly accumulating 70 runs off 105 balls and guiding India beyond the 200-run mark. If not for Rahul's brilliantly-paced innings, it might have been difficult for the visitors to cross even 150 in the first innings.

After rain forced early stumps and a wet outfield caused further delay to start of the proceedings on the second day, KL Rahul seemed a man on a mission. He encountered early challenges in his first over of the day when Kagiso Rabada generated significant movement off the surface, beating him thrice on the outside edge. Despite these initial difficulties, Rahul remained unfazed and capitalized on poorly delivered balls, particularly punishing anything pitched short with disdain towards the boundary.

In a span of six overs, he accelerated from 70 to 95, with 24 of those runs coming from four boundaries and a six. Displaying a fitting conclusion to his long-awaited ton, Rahul reached the three-figure mark with a six in the 67th over against Gerald Coetzee. With only one wicket remaining (Siraj dismissed in the same over), Rahul faced the last delivery of the over. In response to stand-in skipper Dean Elgar's decision to bring all fielders close inside the circle, Rahul smashed the delivery for a six towards midwicket to reach the mark in 133 balls.

This was also his second successive century at the Centurion. Rahul also became the only second Indian wicketkeeper-batter to score a century in South Africa after Rishabh Pant, who achieved the feat during the 2021/22 tour. The batter was eventually dismissed for 101 as India were bowled out for 245 in the first innings.

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