IND vs SA – Test Match: SA make big strikes after falling for 286 on Day 1


Janaury 5, 2018

Brief Scorecard: India 28 for 3 (Pujara 5*, Rohit 0*, Morkel 1-0) South Africa 286 (de Villiers 65, du Plessis 62, Bhuvneshwar 4-87)

Janaury 5, 2018

Brief Scorecard: India 28 for 3 (Pujara 5*, Rohit 0*, Morkel 1-0) South Africa 286 (de Villiers 65, du Plessis 62, Bhuvneshwar 4-87)

January 5, 2018: South Africa v India, 1st Test, Cape Town, 1st day On a patchy green surface, Faf du Plessis chose to bat on the opening day of the tour – AFP

CAPE TOWN: Drama, thy name is Test cricket. At Newlands. On a pitch with a bit of spice. With a build-up that did not lack for shots across the bow.

Faf du Plessis confessed he had a score to settle, and so he armed himself with four fast bowlers the envy of the world. Virat Kohli saw Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander during warm-ups. His only comment with regard to was "we knew they were going a batsman short and we want to get at them with the new ball". He should feel happy enough knocking South Africa out for 286.

But really, how could anyone avoid the temptation of unleashing that attack, in any condition let alone a surface with both pace and lateral movement. Given 11 overs to turn the game, Philander dismissed M Vijay, Steyn claimed Dhawan to move into the top-10 wicket-takers in Test history and Morkel lured Kohli into a familar trap behind the wicket. India bowled South Africa out for 286 but then they limped to stumps 28 for 3.

Cape Town dealt almost exclusively in hair-raising action. Bhuvneshwar Kumar began proceedings by spiriting three wickets in his first three overs. To ensure there wasn't one-way traffic, AB de Villiers produced a half-century that was downright delectable. He had total control of the game and the opposition at his mercy when the debutant Jasprit Bumrah – who played his last first-class game almost a year ago – knocked back the off stump.

India's hold-one-end-up bowler Hardik Pandya got rid of du Plessis for 62 mere moments after a remarkably tight lbw call went against the visitors. Kohli probably had that running in his head – and the South African captain's pre-series comments about revenge – when he indulged in a send-off and was soon cautioned by the umpires.

Worried that things had calmed too far down, Quinton de Kock spent an hour in the middle looking like he was the action hero who always gets shot at but never gets hit. Anyone who stepped away from their screens during play in Cape Town, please report to the cricket gods for punishment.

Now, it is more than fair for a home team to play to its strengths but that didn't mean batting was a treacherous exercise. The outfield was lightning. The ball came on even better than expected. Fields were up. And fun was had. The run-rate through the first two sessions was 4.3

Dean Elgar might not be too happy with how his day went though. Having finished 2017 as South Africa's highest Test scorer, his first innings in the new year lasted only three deliveries. It wasn't entirely his fault though. India had probably done their homework and realised that of his 44 dismissals to pace, 30 of them have been caught behind or in the cordon. So Bhuvneshwar forced him to deal with a back of a length ball pitching on off stump and seaming away. He had to play. Then he had to go.

Aiden Markram was lbw not playing a shot. Okay, that's not quite true. He was trying desperately to bring his bat in line with a good length delivery pitching outside off and jagging back in but he just wasn't quick enough. The young opener basically strung himself up with his habit of shuffling across and playing around his front pad.

The third wicket of this phenomenal spell was probably the most important of them all. But it was the least sexy. Hashim Amla poked well away from his body and Wriddhiman Saha picked up his second catch of the first half hour, much to the cacophonous delight of the slip fielders beside him. Oddly, Ajinkya Rahane was not among that number with India choosing to go in with Rohit Sharma, a man in better recent form.

With the new ball and the outside and inside edges hogging the limelight, the middle of the bat was off sulking somewhere. De Villiers found it and made sure it was front and centre for the entire time he was at the crease. He sent his first delivery through midwicket for a crisp boundary. He struck India's best bowler Bhuvneshwar for four fours in an over. He played late. He met the ball close to his body. He used soft hands. And he punished anything even remotely short. In essence, de Villiers' innings was an exhibition of how to bat on a difficult pitch. Playing only his third day of Test cricket over the last two years, he made 65 off 84 balls.

Du Plessis was, as ever, scoring runs by simply making sure he was at the wicket. He waited for the wide ones to hit through cover and point. He feasted on the straight ones, that strong bottom hand coupling very nicely with a fast outfield. But the cut shot to get to a half-century in his comeback Test – he missed Boxing Day with a viral infection – was basically a dare. Try stopping that.

India might have done even better if Mohammed Shami had found his rhythm sooner but he did not enjoy bowling into the wind; his run-up noticeably affected. It took 10 overs and three spells for his first wicket of the tour. It was one his team was hunting for though. Philander, in his pre-match comments, had indicated that he did not believe India were better travellers now. And while he did play some of the best cover drives in the match, helping string a vital 60-run stand for the sixth wicket at more than run-a-ball, he left the field with his defences and his stumps shattered.

Bhuvneshwar had the opportunity to take a fifth wicket just before tea was taken, but India's old problem of having a porous slip cordon put paid to those plans when Dhawan dropped Keshav Maharaj on 0. The batsman had made 35 in enterprising fashion before he was dismissed, run-out by a direct hit from R Ashwin at mid-on. Later, the offspinner picked up his first wicket in South Africa, Rabada caught behind. The innings ended in the 74th over when Morkel was lbw for 2. The hosts' last five wickets added 144 runs – that's two more than the first five.


Courtesy/Source: ESPNCrininfo