MUMBAI (Reuters) – Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara hit unbeaten fifties to help India stretch their overall lead over South Africa to 246 runs and press for victory in the opening test at Visakhapatnam on Saturday.
India lost opener Mayank Agarwal early but recovered strongly to reach 175 for one in their second innings at the tea break on the fourth day with Rohit unbeaten on 84 and Pujara 75 not out.
Rohit, who made 176 in his maiden innings as test opener earlier in the match, looked as solid in the second while Pujara made up for his cheap dismissal in the first essay though with a chance-filled knock.
Double centurion in the first innings, Agarwal was out for seven when he edged Keshav Maharaj to slip but his opening partner Rohit and Pujara then added 154 for the burgeoning second-wicket partnership.
There was not much luck for the South African bowlers as they toiled tirelessly on a hot and humid day unable to convert their half chances.
Pujara edged between the slip and the wicketkeeper twice in the same over from fast bowler Kagiso Rabada while Rohit was caught on the boundary line but the fielder touched the padding with his foot for it to be declared a six.
That was one of the big hits from the right-hander, who hit seven fours and four sixes in his second innings for a total of 10 sixes in the test match already.
South Africa, who fought back spectacularly from 63-4 in their first innings through centuries from Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock on Friday, were finally all out for 431 to concede a first innings lead of 71.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin added two more wickets on Saturday to his five-wicket haul to finish with 7-145 after South Africa had resumed the day on 385 for eight.
Debutant all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy, who was let off before he had opened his scoring on the third day, remained unbeaten on 33, scoring some useful runs for the touring side down the order.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)