Nagpur: Rohit Sharma hit two sixes and 15 fours but none illustrated the quality of his ninth Test hundred like the big, oval-shaped smudge on his jersey as he sauntered back to pavilion after setting India on course to victory against Australia on Friday.
On a treacherous track where Australia wilted for 177 in the series opener, Rohit conjured a batting masterclass of 120 to help the hosts finish day two with a significant first-innings lead of 144 with three wickets in hand.
The 35-year-old became the only India captain, and fifth overall, to score hundreds in all three formats in international cricket.
The right-hander set the tone on Thursday itself, hitting Australia captain Pat Cummins for three boundaries in the opening over of the Indian innings.
Known for his elegant shotmaking, Rohit proved his adaptability and mixed caution with aggression even when wickets kept tumbling at the other end.
Rohit had a narrow escape on 83 when Virat Kohli called for a quick single before sending him back.
Not a natural diver, Rohit flung himself to avoid getting run out and had a big stain on his jersey when he rose on his feet.
“It was a very special innings. He adapted very well,” India batting coach Vikram Rathour said of Rohit’s knock.
“It was not an easy wicket. Normally, after being watchful initially, he likes to push quickly but today he had to work hard. He showed his adaptability.”
Rohit hit a lofted four off Murphy’s bowling to bring up his first Test hundred since assuming red-ball captaincy last year and took a single off the next delivery to level the scores.
Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif termed Rohit “crisis manager” and said Friday’s knock was a perfect example of how to overcome challenging conditions.
Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja made an unbeaten 66 to put India in the box seat despite Todd Murphy’s memorable debut.
Murphy justified his selection by claiming 5-82 on a spin-friendly track at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium but India finished day two on 321-7.
Jadeja, who claimed 5-47 with the ball on Thursday, raised 81 runs for the unbroken eighth wicket with Axar Patel (52) to drive home India’s advantage.
“Even after getting set, you could not afford a lapse in concentration on this track,” Patel said.
“Jadeja and I told each other if we maintain our focus, we could help set a good total on this track.”
It was a day of hard toil for the tourists but Murphy impressed with his relentless pursuit for wicket.
The 22-year-old had removed KL Rahul late on Thursday for his first Test wicket and the bespectacled off-spinner struck twice in the morning session to keep India in check.
He dismissed Ravichandran Ashwin lbw for 23 and induced Cheteshwar Pujara (seven) into playing a sweep shot to a delivery way outside the leg stump to be caught at short fine leg.
Murphy removed Virat Kohli (12) with the first ball after lunch and Nathan Lyon bowled debutant Suryakumar Yadav (eight) through the gate but Rohit was unperturbed.
The opener lofted Murphy over mid-off for a four to bring up his hundred and took a single off the next delivery to level the scores.
Pat Cummins, armed with the second new ball, finally ended Rohit’s fine innings by sending his off-stump cartwheeling.
Rohit, who hit 15 fours and two sixes in his stellar knock, could have fallen in the previous delivery but Steve Smith floored a catch in the second slip.
Jadeja was the wrecker-in-chief with the ball and the all-rounder tormented Australia with the bat too bringing up his 18th Test fifty.
Smith grassed another catch in the final over of the day giving Jadeja a reprieve.
Australia batter Matt Renshaw missed much of the action with knee pain but was cleared to return to field after undergoing scans.
Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad host the remaining matches of the four-test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.