STUMPS: So finally seeing the weather, umpires have decided that no further play can be possible on the day. India end day 1 in a strong position at 224/3.
It's not looking good at the moment as it's started to rain heavily here. This might just be the end of the day.
Bad news! The umpires are taking the players off the field due to bad light. There's quite a few dark clouds that are circling the stadium too.
An otherwise good over from Nortje has spoilt the over here for South Africa. Rohit can only add another single to the boundary. India move onto 224/3.
Four! Nortje bends his back but strays in length and Rohit nonchalantly flicks him over square leg for four runs. Beautifully played.
Four! Too full from Linde and Rahane's whipped it away through the leg side. Terrible delivery that's helped undo all the good work from the last over by Nortje.
Good probing over from Nortje, who's able to get the ball to reverse too at high speeds. But he's bowled a loose delivery down the leg side for 2 byes to end the over. Thankully De Kock got a hand to it otherwise that'd be four runs.
Linde starts off another over with a couple over pitched deliveries which produce three runs but then settles down and keeps Rahane quiet with four dots. Sunil Gavaskar in commentary says SA need more of these dots to build some kind of pressure.
Another over from Nortje where he is on the money and has no freebies to offer the batsmen. Rohit and Rahane are happy to knock it around. Inda are on 208/3.
Linde with the first over after tea and has kept things under control. Just the one run in gloomy conditions as Rohit is watchful. India move to 206/3.
We are all set for the final session of the day. Can Rohit and Rahane continue their fine form, or will South Africa fight back?
Nortje bowls a good over to end the session. Just the one run from that over, but India have upped the ante in this session with Rohit Sharma going through the gears. At tea, India are 205/3.
George Linde comes into the attack again, and he's bowled out a good over. No loose deliveries and Rohit and Rahane are happy to knock it around too. India are 204/3.
Nortje comes back into the attack as Faf looks to break this partnership. Good over from the fast bowler. Comes with a maiden but India's batsmen aren't too worried from the looks of it.
Piedt comes away unscathed this time around as Rohit and Rahane knock him around the wicket for twos and a single. Good solid batting from the two here as India move onto 200/3.
Rabada's decided to bang it in short here and see if it makes a difference, but both Rohit and Rahane comfortably pull him away for runs. Four runs off the last three deliveries of the over.
SIX! Now Ajinkya Rahane's joined the party. He's stepped out and dismissed Piedt over long off for a maximum! Complete domination from India.
That's followed up by another maiden over from Rabada. Rohit has done just what India needed - dominate after getting in and he's scored fast too. India are 184/3.
SIX! Down on one knee and Rohit has gone over extra cover and gone miles. Majestic shot to bring up his century!
Uh oh! The groundsmen are getting the covers ready!
Four! Rahane drives Rabada back over him with a chip shot that is brilliantly timed. Superb batting from India to wrestle back the advantage.
SIX! Huge hit! Rohit does not connect properly but he's comfortably cleared long on with just brute force! Stand and deliver!
Ngidi from the other end bowls a good over which Rahane has no problem in letting go as a maiden. No risks taken.
SIX! Stand and deliver from Rohit Sharma here as he clubs Piedt over long off for a maximum. Expensive over from South Africa means India move onto 162/3.
Four! Rahane pounces on the loose delivery and goes inside out through the covers of Piedt for crisply hit boundary! Textbook shot.
Now Dane Piedt comes into the attack. And Rahane gets to his fifty and this has been a brilliant, attacking one from him. He has put India in a position of strength. India are now 149/3.
FOUR: Ngidi comes into the attack now. And he is welcomed by Rohit with a cracking four through long off. This is excellent batting as Rohit now moves to 71. India are 143/3.
Another over comes to an end and Indians are looking solid at the moment. This is great batting by Rohit and Rahane as they have taken the team to 124/3.
Linde comes back into the attack now. Rahane and Rohit are batting well together and showing good coordination. They need to continue building the partnership. Another over comes to an end. India are 118/3.
Catch all the live updates from the Ranchi Test between India and South Africa: STUMPS: So finally seeing the weather, umpires have decided that no further play can be possible on the day. India end day 1 in a strong position at 224/3.
Preview: Before August this year, situations like the third Test between India and South Africa in Ranchi, with the hosts having sealed the series 2-0, will be called ‘dead rubber’. Both teams would have been inclined to giving their bench a game, with nothing to lose.
But in the era of ICC Test Championship, there are no dead rubbers. There are 40 points to gain, which could be useful in the long run. Even for India, who are comfortably leading the table with 200 points.
Virat Kohli made that clear after the win in the second Test in Pune, saying there’s no chance India will drop down in intensity. Kohli is known for making changes to his XI often, but that might not be the case this time. It’s South Africa who have to make at least two changes, with Keshav Maharaj and Aiden Markram ruled out with injuries.
India are on auto pilot, irrespective of the personnel. All their batsmen are in form. All their bowlers are picking wickets. It won’t be wrong to say they are close to unbeatable at home; they have an aura around them when playing in these conditions.
The big difference between India and South Africa has been the ‘big scores’. When an Indian batsman gets a start, he makes it big. Mayank Agarwal and Kohli have made double-centuries. Rohit Sharma has a 176. They’re consistent too; Mayank and Rohit have two centuries in the series already, while Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Ajinkya Rahane have contributed with one half-century each.
South Africa’s batsmen have got starts, but have not made them big. Dean Elgar and Quinton de Kock scored centuries in the first innings at Visakhapatnam but their form has tapered down. Faf du Plessis has two half-centuries, but has not converted. That’s not enough especially in these conditions where one wicket brings two, or more.
On the contrary, South Africa’s contributors have been in the lower order. Senuran Muthusamy, Maharaj, Dane Piedt and Vernon Philander have all made runs, but they’ve all come at times when the game had already gone past them.
For South Africa to stay in the game, they need the top order to click. The seniors – Elgar, du Plessis and de Kock – have to make themselves count. Temba Bavuma and Theunis de Bruyn, who have struggled but might get away thanks to Markram’s injury, have to step up.
South Africa have to decide who they replace Markram with. Will they go for Zubayr Hamsa or an aggressive choice in Heinrich Klaasen? Maharaj’s absence will pave way for one of Piedt or George Linde. South Africa also have Lungi Ngidi, but he could have to wait for his turn.
The pitch at Ranchi is dry, which means the visitors will face a trial by spin. There’s a slim chance India might play Kuldeep Yadav for one of the pacers, making life even more difficult for South Africa. R Ashwin is the leading wicket-taker of the series (14) and is followed by Ravindra Jadeja (10).
South Africa will rue the fact that they’ve lost 16 wickets to pace in the two Tests. It’s an aspect of the game they’d have felt a bit more control, and yet have struggled. If that margin can be reduced, they’ll believe they have a better chance of battling against turn.
Talking about controllables and uncontrollables, South Africa have a big battle at the toss. They’ve lost nine in a row in Asia, and cannot afford that once more. Will they find some luck in Ranchi?
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha(w), R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill, Shahbaz Nadeem.
South Africa: Dean Elgar Theunis de Bruyn, Dane Piedt, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis(c), Quinton de Kock(w), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, George Linde, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Heinrich Klaasen, Zubayr Hamza, Anrich Nortje.