India captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first as India started their World Test Championship campaign at home in the first Test against South Africa at Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. India Test openers Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal walked out to bat for the first time together and immediately made their way into the record books.
The newly-formed opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal became the first Indian opening pair in 47 years to play their first match on home soil. The last time both Indian opening batsmen were playing their first match in India was Sunil Gavaskar and Ramnath Parkar way back in 1972 at New Delhi against England. Parkar was making his Test debut while Gavaskar was playing his first match as an opener at home.
Rohit and Mayank are also playing their first match in India as designated Test openers. While Maynak has cemented his place in the side, Rohit is playing his first Test as an opener. The vice captain in limited overs cricket has replaced KL Rahul at the top, who was axed from the Test side for his inconsistent run.
Rohit, however did not begin his journey as a red-ball opener in a great way. He was dismissed for a second-ball duck by Vernon Philander in the three-day practice match against South Africa ahead of the Test. But India skipper Virat Kohli backed Rohit to come good in the three-match series.
"If he does that (succeeds in the opening role), then our batting order at the top becomes more lethal. It is difficult to have a player like that to not start every time," said Kohli.
"...If he comes into his own then the whole batting order looks a completely different batting order anywhere in the world."
In 27 Tests, he has made 1585 runs at 39.62 while he is the owner of more than 10,000 runs in limited overs cricket.
India, meanwhile made another significant change to their playing XI by bringing in Wriddhiman Saha in place of Rishabh Pant because of the former's better wicket-keeping skills.
South Africa, on the other hand, decided to hand debut to all-rounder Senuran Muthusamy and played Kesav Maharaj and Dane Piedt as the specialist spinners.
India - Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
South Africa - Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Faf du Plessis (captain), Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Dane Piedt