Dharamsala, Oct 2 (IANS) Opening batsman Rohit Sharma struck his maiden Twenty20 International (T20I) century (106) to put hosts India in a strong position at 199/5 against <strong class=’StrictlyAutoTagBold’>South Africa in the first match of the three-match series here on Friday.
Rohit got ample support from No.3 bat Virat Kohli (43) to help build a sizeable total at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium. They forged a 138-run partnership for the second wicket.
After being sent into bat, India received a setback when opener Shikhar Dhawan (3) was run out while trying to steal a single after a misfield. Dhawan’s valiant dive wasn’t enough to save his wicket as India were reduced to 22/1 in 3.1 overs.
The other opener Rohit (106 of 66 balls, 12×4 5×6) though tried to shake off the disappointment and hit some lusty blows to rev up India’s run rate, which reached 50 in 6.4 overs.
Kohli (43 of 27 balls, 1×4, 3×6) also joined the act, hitting a consecutive six and a four at the start of the eighth over off pacer Chris Morris.
Rohit reached the 50-run mark in the ninth over, guiding a wide delivery off pacer Kyle Abbott to the boundary.
The Mumbaikar also brought up India’s hundred with a big six over mid-wicket off leg-spinner Imran Tahir in the 12th over.
The Rohit-Kohli 138-run second wicket partnership enabled India to launch a no-holds-barred charge in the death overs.
Rohit began the charge scoring boundaries almost at will. The 28-year-old right-hander brought up his century with a majestic six over long on off pacer Merchant de Lange in the 15th over.
Kohli also achieved a personal milestone in the process, becoming the first Indian to score 1000 runs in T20 internationals.
Though first Kohli and then Rohit departed in the same over, dismissed by Abbott, India were firmly placed to post a strong total. Abbot was South Africa’s most successful bowler picking up two wickets for 29 runs.
Earlier, the visitors left out all-rounder Albie Morkel, young leg–spinner Edie Leie, batsmen Khaya Zondo and Quinton de Kock.
Pacer Srinath Aravind was given his debut by India. Spinners Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin were preferred over veterans Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra to shoulder India’s slow bowling task for the match.