SA vs Ind, 3rd Test, Freedom Trophy 2021-22: India disappoint with bat, muster only 223; SA 17-1
Rabada, Jansen share seven wickets between them; Pujara is the only Indian batter cross 40
Brief Scores: South Africa 17-1 (Markram 8*, Bumrah 1-0) trail India 223 (Kohli 79, Pujara 43, Rabada 4-73, Jansen 3-55) by 206 runs at Stumps on Day 1
India breached South Africa’s fortress Centurion to end a successful last year on a high note while the hosts came back strongly to destroy the tourist’s away fortress, Wanderers, to level the series 1-1. Both teams now would look forward to go for a result in the series-decider in Cape Town. India are yet to enjoy victory at Newlands with two draws and three losses.
However, with the return of regular Test captain, Virat Kohli, India began with the confidence to firmly seal their maiden Test series victory on South African soil.
The 22-yards strip at Newlands
The track had the potential to be a bit slow to start with even though the grass would provide more pace. There was a bit of tackiness to it which would push the captains to think about Day 4 and Day 5. One end would produce bounce whereas the other end would offer lateral movement. Therefore, it was a decent strip but a tale of two ends.
India opted to bat, Kohli returned to the playing XI
For the third consecutive time in this series, India won the toss and opted to bat first. The good news was the return of regular captain Virat Kohli who replaced Hanuma Vihari whereas injured Mohammad Siraj made way for Umesh Yadav. South Africa, on the other hand, decided to go with an unchanged side from the Wanderers Test.
Kohli-Pujara rebuilt innings after losing openers early; took India to 75/2 at Lunch
Both openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, made a decent start to the innings under grey skies against a steady, firm, sensible and good-looking South African bowling attack. Few boundaries came straight down the ground but edges being not converted into wickets was so frustrating for the hosts.
Finally, Duanne Olivier drew first blood sending in form KL Rahul back to the hut followed by Mayank Agarwal edging Kagiso Rabada who was playing in his 50th Test match.
It was time to rebuild and two veterans, Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli, did it perfectly. The latter got off the mark with a beautiful boundary on his 16th delivery. Since then, both looked solid and stitched up an unbeaten 42-run partnership to settle down the nerves in the Indian camp.
But the job was still cut out on a track which was doing a fair bit for the bowlers being interested in the game.
Kohli displays high concentration even as Proteas dismissed Pujara and Rahane; India 141/4 at Tea
The unbeaten pair began the middle session quite solidly negotiating tough questions from the Proteas. Even though two or three boundaries were hit, Pujara looked a bit uncomfortable at the crease and finally a jaffa from left-armer Marco Jansen got the better of him. Ajinkya Rahane too, after a few good-looking shots, had to walk back thanks to a seed from Rabada.
But the session was about the fighting determination of captain Virat Kohli; the viewers had access to one of the best 50-minutes of play observing the fiery spell of Kagiso Rabada against the Indian batter. He was giving respect to all the good balls but never missed out smashing the bad balls.
Rishabh Pant, who is under a scanner for his senseless shot from the last game, played the rest of the session with responsibility as India made their way to 141/4. The good news for the tourists was that the Sun had come out in Cape Town with bright forecast awaiting in the rest of the game.
Kohli fell short of elusive hundred on 79; South Africa reduced India to 223
It wasn’t the scenario everyone was hoping for, especially, that rapidly, but some disciplined bowling from the home bowlers had cut short about 50 runs from the Indian total. Both the Delhi boys – Kohli and Pant - kicked off the evening period aggressively. Meanwhile, with an edgy boundary, Virat Kohli reached his second-slowest fifty in Test Cricket - in 158 deliveries.
But Pant again failed to judge the ball bringing an end to the 51-run stand. Ravichandran Ashwin too took the same route. Shardul Thakur played some gorgeous shots, especially, the cut shot over point against Rabada, but gifted Keshav Maharaj his first wicket of the series. Bumrah, after a promotion in the batting order, was undone by a serious bouncer.
Captain Kohli was running out of partners and at last, in trying to play freely, nicked one of the wide deliveries gifting his wicket to a deserving candidate, Rabada. The 71st century still remains in the dream of thoughts. Soon, the tourists were bundled out for just 223.
India picked Elgar before close of play, South Africa 17-1 at Stumps
In the tricky 30 minute period at the end of the day, South Africa lost their captain, Dean Elgar, the leader of the troops, thanks to a cracker from Jasprit Bumrah; nothing much the left-hander could do there. Nightwatchman, Keshav Maharaj survived a run-out which could have resulted from a misunderstanding but saw off the day with opener Aiden Markram.
What to look forward on Day 2
Wickets will be the only thing what India will eye to start the second day, whereas South Africa will target some runs from their middle-order and the rest of the batting unit to put the pressure of a huge total on the Indian team. On a track that did so much throughout the day even on the first day, a lead of around 50-60 runs can easily decide the fate of the series.
Here are some of the top twitter reactions from SAvsIND, Newlands Test, Day 1:
Read More: Dissecting Wanderers Test: Moment of glory for South Africa while India missed Captain Kohli