MUMBAI (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli compiled a sparkling double hundred on the way to his highest test score as the hosts amassed a huge first-innings total in the second test against South Africa at Pune on Friday.
The 30-year-old, in his 50th test as skipper, remained unbeaten on 254 after bringing up his first test hundred of the year, and the 26th of his career, as India declared their first innings closed on 601 for five wickets.
The declaration from Kohli came when Ravindra Jadeja fell for 91 with the hosts, who lead the three-test series 1-0 after their opening win in Visakhaptanam, losing just two wickets on Friday after resuming the second day on 273-3.
In reply, a tired and dispirited South Africa lost openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram and number four Temba Bavuma to reach 36 for three at the close of play, staring at a Herculean task of batting for three days to save the test and the series.
Kohli’s seventh double hundred in tests took him past batting great Sachin Tendulkar and former opener Virender Sehwag as the Indian batsman with most the double centuries while he also passed 7,000 runs in the format during his innings.
After the 138-run stand for the second wicket between centurion Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara on the opening day, it was the turn of Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, who made 59, to turn the screw on South Africa with a partnership of 178.
Kohli, who hit 33 fours and two sixes in his knock, and Jadeja then dampened South Africa’s morale further with a 225-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Armed with the second new ball, which was about five overs old, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander started off strongly to keep the batsmen on their toes.
There were not many scoring opportunities provided by the fast bowlers and most runs during the first 30 minutes came off the edge of the bat.
The frustrating wait for a breakthrough continued for the South Africans as Kohli, who was dropped on three by spinner Keshav Maharaj off his own bowling on Thursday, had numerous edges elude the fielder behind the wicket.
Left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy and the fielders celebrated when an edge from the prolific scorer, then on 208, was safely caught by captain Faf du Plessis at slip but the delivery was ruled a no-ball with the bowler overstepping.
Once the ball had lost a bit of shine and the pitch some movement, Kohli, who also has 43 tons in the 50-over format, opened up and converted his knock into a hundred in his fifth test of 2019.
Trademark drives on both sides of the wicket flowed from the right-hander’s bat as India piled on the runs in their first innings on a surface expected to assist the slow bowlers more as the match progressed.
A sublime straight-driven boundary off Philander brought up the hundred for Kohli while he scampered for two runs off Muthusamy to get to his double century.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford and Toby Davis