Morne Morkel dismisses Virat Kohli    Getty Images
Morne Morkel dismisses Virat Kohli Getty Images

Finally, the much-awaited moment came. India tour of South Africa commenced. It was a riveting first day’s play at Cape Town and it’s almost even-stevens at stumps, with South Africa perhaps holding a slight edge. Here are the moments that defined Day One’s play.

The Rahane shocker

Not many expected Ajinkya Rahane to be left out of the XI but you can always except Virat Kohli to spring up surprises. This one came early. As early as in the toss. Indian team sheet did not have their vice-captain in the XI. Rohit Sharma was picked instead.

South Africa edge past India after being bundled out for 286 on Day 1 of Cape Town Test
South Africa edge past India after being bundled out for 286 on Day 1 of Cape Town Test

Rahane, India’s best overseas batsman, had a disappointing 2017. Towards the end of the year he managed just 17 runs from 5 innings against Sri Lanka. He also got 2 ducks for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. Nevertheless, fans expressed their displeasure on Twitter.

Bhuvi’s Day Out

Bhuvneshwar Kumar wreaked havoc in the South African camp in the first half an hour’s play. He found prodigious movement and extra bounce from the surface. He sent back Dean Elgar in the first over, evoking memories of Kapil Dev, who did the same by dismissing Jimmy Cook in India’s first ever Test in the South Africa, in 1992-93 at Durban.

Aiden Markram fell to an inswinger in Bhuvi’s second over and Hashim Amla to an outswinger in his third. All three failed to read the movement. With South Africa reduced to 12 for 3, India could not have hoped for a better start. Bhuvi finished with a 4-wicket haul.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates after dismissing Hashim Amla    AFP
Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrates after dismissing Hashim Amla AFP

AB counterattacks

The saying in cricket goes ‘the best way to defend is to attack’. With wickets falling like ninepins, AB de Villiers counterattacked. His league and class are different, and despite his absence from the longer format he proved that for the umpteenth time. In Bhuvi’s fifth over, he smacked him for 4 boundaries to disrupt the rhythm, and found his.

De Villiers brought up his 41st Test fifty. Skipper Faf du Plessis played a good supporting hand. The mates added 114 for the fourth wicket when…

…Burmah struck

Bumrah became the 290th Test cricketer for India earlier in the day. He was rewarded with the Test cap for his consistent shows with the white ball. He did trouble the otherwise fluent AB on occasions and finally cleaned him with sharp seam movement. The ball crashed in, took the master’s edge en route to the stumps. De Villiers walked back for 65 off 84 balls.

Jasprit Bumrah cleans up AB de Villiers to open his account in Tests    AFP
Jasprit Bumrah cleans up AB de Villiers to open his account in Tests AFP

De Villiers became Bumrah’s maiden Test wicket. He first ODI wicket was Steven Smith, first T20I wicket was David Warner and much before that, his first IPL wicket was Virat Kohli.

Faf falls to an angry Pandya

Hardik Pandya’s deceptive inswinger had beaten du Plessis. It looked plumb but umpire thought otherwise. India reviewed and umpire’s call parameter saved Faf. Pandya was livid, as was Kohli. The South African dressing-room was elated.

Two balls later, Pandya got one to move away and Faf poked at it to Wriddhiman Saha’s gloves. Kohli gave a send-off to his counterpart and it was Pandya’s turn for elation.

No half-measures.

The QdK cameo

South Africa had lost half their side at 142. Quinton de Kock decided to counterattack. Along with Vernon Philander, he added 60 in just 9 overs before being Bhuvi’s fourth victim. He played brilliantly on the up, scoring a 40-ball 43.

Shami’s gets into the act

Shami probably bowled the ball of the day. Philander had produced the leave of the day earlier when he let go of a Shami inswinger that went over the stumps. The next ball Shami bowled another inswinger, beating Philander’s bat and pad to meet the stumps.

Mohammed Shami delivers the 'ball of the day'    AFP
Mohammed Shami delivers the ‘ball of the day’ AFP

Later, Ravichandran Ashwin would pick 2 wickets and South Africa were bundled out for 286. It was not a bad show considering they were 12 for 3 and had lost half their side inside 150.

Ashwin, the fielder shines

You have to believe it. A direct hit from Ashwin at mid-wicket ended a threatening outing from Keshav Maharaj for 35. He was later seen diving and stopping balls at the boundary.

Steyn returns, India’s villain of the day

Murali Vijay was expected to play those long innings and that did not happen. He flashed hard to Elgar at gully to hand Philander a wicket.

Shikhar Dhawan had dropped Maharaj, who scored a vital 35. This is was Dhawan’s fourth drop at slips in the last six months. However, he was middling the ball today. The drives were flowing smoothly and he had raced to 16 in no time. Then Dale Steyn dug one short and in a moment of madness, Dhawan went for a pull. The extra bounce and pace produced a top edge and Steyn completed a simple caught and bowled.

Steyn, with 10 caught-and-bowled dismissals, has now drawn level with Richard Hadlee for most such dismissals by a fast bowler in Tests. He also went past Harbhajan Singh’s tally of 417 wickets to enter the table of top 10 wicket-takers in this format.

Kohli: Old habits don’t die hard

Old habits die hard. India had reviewed a caught behind decision off Bumrah’s bowling. It was a no-ball. There was no edge. In hindsight it saved India’s review but how many times has this happened to Bumrah?

Anyway, this is about Kohli. Morne Morkel, in his first ball of the Test, dug one short and got it to move away. Kohli, beaten by pace and movement, poked it to de Kock’s gloves. How many times have we seen Kohli fall to the corridor of uncertainty.

India are 28 for 3. The pendulum has shifted to South Africa despite all good work by Indian pacers.