KL Rahul leads Team India in the absence of injured Virat Kohli at Wanderers.
Brief Scores: South Africa 35-1 (K Petersen 14, M Shami 1-15) trail India 202 (KL Rahul 50, R Ashwin 46, M Jansen 4-31, K Rabada 3-64) by 167-runs at Stumps on Day 1
After finishing 2021 with a 113-run victory against hosts South Africa, in the process becoming the first Asian side to win in Centurion, India would look to kick off year 2022 by wrapping up the series at their away fortress Wanderers, where they are yet to lose a Test match with two wins and three draws till now.
South Africa on the other hand would have to heal their poor record at the ground with 11 loses in 31 Tests (since re-admission), the most number of defeats at a home ground.
The 22-yard strip at Wanderers
The pitch looked a solid one to bat on despite looking like it would be a touch slow in the beginning. Even though with every passing hour, the track promised to quicken up. There were few cracks as well which will surely open up as the game would progress. Still, it will be a good batting wicket; the pacers have to be patient to reap just rewards.
India opt to bat, Kohli missed out
The shocker of a news to start the Test was watching India vice-captain KL Rahul coming out for toss. India won the toss and opted for batting as Rahul informed that Virat Kohli had an upper back spasm and hence missed out. Hanuma Vihari replaced the Indian captain. South Africa made two changes as well - Kyle Verreynne came in for retired Quinton de Kock and pacer Duanne Olivier replaced Wiaan Mulder.
Olivier-Jansen broke Virat-less India’s back, reduced visitors to 53-3 at Lunch
Both India openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, began the session on a high spirit; especially the latter taking the aggressive mode. In the 9th over of the morning, they raced away to 32 for no loss. Captain Rahul was biding his time while Agrawal was collecting boundaries with ease. It seemed like India would again post a huge 1st innings total at the Bullring.
But since drinks, the Proteas made an excellent comeback. Marco Jansen dismissed Agarwal by getting an outside edge drawing him forward. Cheteshwar Pujara never looked settled as runs had begun to dry up. Soon, making a return in the side, Duanne Olivier sent Pujara back with a shoulder height ball. Ajinkya Rahane too fell for his first golden duck in Tests.
In this process, Olivier became the third-quickest South African to reach 50 Test wickets. Even since the 20th century, he became the second after Vernon Philander to reach the milestone in terms of deliveries bowled.
South Africa continued to dominate in 2nd session despite KL Rahul’s gritty fifty; India were 146-5 at Tea
Unlike the first session, both the batters started the session with a goal of repairing the innings. They left the balls outside the off-stump really well, especially captain KL Rahul whereas Hanuma Vihari was facing a few problems from the short deliveries. Just when it looked like they had settled their nerves, Vihari got undone by a Kagiso Rabada bouncer, thanks to stunning catch by Rassie van der Dussen at short leg.
Soon, KL Rahul, with a single, notched up another half-century off the 128th ball he faced in the innings; it was such a vital knock given the situation and the way he had gone about his business was impressive to say the least. But he disappointed himself by getting out immediately after reaching 50 as Rabada caught him at the fence.
Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin played the rest of the session with positivity as India hoped to continue to a respectable first innings total with them on the crease after the break.
Disciplined South Africa restrict India to 202
The plan didn’t go India’s way as they lost hard-hitting Rishabh Pant early in the third session. Shardul Thakur who had scored some quick and crucial runs in England last year found himself dismissed soon after. With India at 157-7, the hosts were looking to get the visitors under 170. But Ravichandran Ashwin played a crucial innings of 46 off 50 balls which could go on to make an impact on the result of the Test.
On the back of tailender Jasprit Bumrah’s one six and four, India crossed the 200-run mark before Rabada finished things claiming his 3-fer. Marco Jansen playing in his second game was outstanding picking up 4 wickets at less than 2 runs per over.
Elgar-Petersen see off tricky period after India dismissed Markram early, South Africa 35-1 at Stumps
India launched their bowling superbly as Centurion Test hero, Mohammad Shami drew first blood for India in just the 4th over sending Aiden Markram back to the hut. Since then, the bowlers bowled well in the right channels but found impressive resistance from the home batters.
Mohammed Siraj, after bowling an outstanding over to opposition leader Dean Elgar, moving the ball away and threatening to induce an outside edge, sadly left the field with a hamstring injury.
What to look forward to on Day 2
The overnight batters would want to carry on batting as much as possible. The pitch looks as though it will quicken up tomorrow and that could make it tough for the new batters. The visitors would aim to grab early wickets and try to restrict the Proteas before conceding a heavy lead. With the game shaping up beautifully on Day 1, an exciting second day could be expected.