Rohit Sharma made history in the first test against South Africa by becoming the first batsman to score back-to-back hundreds in his maiden Test match playing as an opener. And, he capped that by breaking the record for the most sixes in a Test match.
Rohit made 176 in India’s first innings score of 502 – 7 declared, and followed that up with 127 as the home side made 323 – 4 declared before bowling out the visitors for 191 to win by 203 runs on Sunday in Visakhapatnam.
And he finished the match with 13 sixes, which surpassed the previous best of 12, achieved by Pakistan’s Wasim Akram against Zimbabwe in 1996, although, unlike Wasim, his were spread over his two innings, six in the first and seven in the second. Wasim hit all 12 of his in an unbeaten knock of 257 at Sheikhupura. Five men have managed 11 sixes in a match: Nathan Astle for New Zealand against England in 2002; Matthew Hayden for Australia against Zimbabwe a year later; Brendon McCullum of New Zealand twice in the same year, 2014, first against Pakistan, and then against Sri Lanka; and, most recently, Ben Stokes of England against South Africa in 2016.
32-year old Rohit has an excellent record in one-day internationals, having scored 23 centuries, but had not been able to translate that form in tests, where he had previously been deployed as a middle order batsman. Prior to the match against South Africa, he had made three centuries in his previous 27 Tests at an average of 39.62, but, having been dropped from the side in recent months, the Indian selectors, facing a selection dilemma over who should open the innings for them, decided to give Rohit his chance at the top of the order.
And he immediately repaid their faith, putting on 317 for the first wicket with Mayank Agarwal, who went on to make 215 in the first innings.
Rohit’s efforts saw him break more records as well. His aggregate total of 303 in the match is the most ever by a batsman in their maiden Test as opener, exceeding Sri Lanka’s Tillakaratne Dilshan, who made 215 against New Zealand in Galle in 2009.
He also became only the second India opener to hit twin hundreds in a match after Sunil Gavaskar, who did it three times, and the sixth India batsman overall, with Vijay Hazare, Rahul Dravid (twice), Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane also having managed this feat.
Less happily perhaps, is also the first India batsman to be stumped in both innings of a Test, each time off Keshav Maharaj. Ironically, he had never previously been stumped in his first-class career.