Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Pandya dazzles but South Africa in command

Pandya dazzles but South Africa in command

India's batsmen also struggled on a green surface in Cape Town.

In the fading shadows of the first day against the No 1-ranked tourists, there was good reason to reflect on a discernible, general positivity, first reflected in team selection and then transferred in several respects to the manner in which Faf du Plessis and his troops went about their business for the bulk of the three sessions.

The Indian team arrived in South Africa full of confidence and the backing from stars of the previous era as well as pundits of the game.

Kumar, who finished with 4-87, sent back Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla in the first five overs of the series-opener.

"Hardik Pandya underlined the value of a quality pace-bowling all-rounder in the group with the most valuable innings of his fledgling worldwide career yet, saving India the blushes against South Africa â€" first with the bat and then with the ball.

But that was how the Friday cookie did crumble, and the Proteas' position may feasibly look even more commanding before lunch on Saturday, as the morning session at Newlands is traditionally generous to seam bowlers - the first in this Test match did absolutely nothing to buck that trend.

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"It's never nice for Dale because he's just come back from injury", said Steyn's fellow South Africa fast bowler Kagiso Rabada. "He likes to play his shots", said Indian teammate Cheteshwar Pujara, whose innings of 26 was eked out over 92 deliveries, in stark contrast to that of Pandya. Morkel and Steyn shared the other four wickets. Steyn took the catch off his own bowling.

Kumar gained appreciable movement off a well-grassed pitch to plunge the South African innings into deep trouble.

"The slip cordon has held some great catches in the past and missing one or two is just a part of the game".

He explained, "It will be important for India to get their combination right and I would want Hardik Pandya to play". With the du Plessis-de Villiers partnership threatening to completely spoil India's early progress, Brumah bowled de Villiers for a memorable first test wicket. They have worked really hard.

That intensity in the field may characterize a contest where India, clearly the best team in the world after nine straight Test series victories, is under scrutiny as it nearly always is to prove it can win big series away from home. It is not in hindsight that one brings Ravichandran Ashwin into the discussion after he took the last two wickets to prevent the South Africans from getting to a 300-plus total to feel psychologically a lot better.

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