Cape Town: Skipper Virat Kohli’s perennnial weakness outside the off-stump was once again exposed as India were in deep trouble at 28 for 3 after bowlers dismissed South Africa for a modest 286 on the opening day of the first Test match.
In their 11 over burst during the final hour, the South African trio of Vernon Philander (1/13 in 4 overs), Dale Steyn (1/13 in 4 overs) and Morne Morkel (1/0 in 2 overs) troubled the Indian top-order with bounce, seam and swing.
Murali Vijay (1) flashed at an away going delivery from Philander while Shikhar Dhawan (16) found Steyn’s pace too hot to handle going for a pullshot on a delivery that climbed on him.
This was after Indian bowlers led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (4/87 in 19 overs) had South Africa 286 all out in 73.1 overs — a total India would consider as 50 too many after the UP seamer had the Proteas reduced to 12 for 3 inside six overs.
Unable to get rid of the tail quickly, South Africa looked set to cross 300 before Ashwin (2-21) took two quick wickets to dismiss both Rabada and Morne Morkel (2).
South Africa’s total was mainly based on contributions from the dangerous pair of AB de Villiers (65) and skipper Faf du Plessis (62), who added a whirlwind 114-run for the fourth wicket to give the visitors an upperhand after the initial debacle.
Debutant Jasprit Bumrah (1/73 in 19overs) and young Hardik Pandya (1/53 in 12 overs) removed the pair in the post lunch session in quick succession.
The dangerous Quinton de Kock (43) was removed by Bhuvneshwar and the Proteas looked uncomfortable despite maintaining a healthy run-rate but never stopped playing shots.
Bumrah got his maiden scalp in De Villiers as he angled one in which breached the defence of the former skipper after taking an inside edge of his bat.
Three overs later, Pandya made it a double breakthrough as Du Plessis was caught behind. It was payback for the all- rounder, who had trapped the batsman lbw off the previous delivery, only for DRS to overturn the decision on umpire’s call.
De Villiers then led South Africa’s recovery as the duo batted out the remainder of the challenging first hour. They looked to counter attack the bowling with the former taking 17 runs off one Bhuvneshwar over.
Debutant Bumrah, who was preferred over seasoned Ishant Sharma, came on as first change and purchased awkward bounce at times off the pitch.
He troubled both batsmen in his first spell but was unable to make the breakthrough that India desired.
Thereafter, De Villiers brought up his 41st Test half- century off only 55 balls, inclusive of 10 fours. The milestone came off a cut shot off Shami’s bowling.