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South Africa vs India 2018, 1st Test: Who Said What

"If we had taken our chances in the first innings, even after them counter-attacking, we could have kept them to 220 which would have been ideal," Kohli said.

South African Team | CricTracker.com
The South African team celebrates a wicket. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The much-awaited Test series between India and South Africa finally got underway amidst a lot of excitement amongst players and the fans. There was a lot of talk about the pitch heading into the first match at Newlands in Cape Town. But the curator won the hearts by preparing a sporting track which kept both the teams interested in the game. Though the rain on the third day turned the game in the favour of bowlers as the batsmen failed to come to the terms. In the end, the game which ebbed and flowed throughout the three days of action was won by the home side.

After winning the toss, Faf du Plessis decided to bat first much to everyone’s surprise and South Africa lost 12/3 courtesy Bhuvneshwar Kumar. But then the sensational counter-attack from AB de Villiers changed the game as the fourth wicket stand added 114 runs. But soon India came back to bowl the hosts out for 286 runs on the first day itself. In response, India stuttered in their response and were left reeling at 92/7 hopelessly out of the game.

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But Hardik Pandya came to the fore and changed the complexion of the game completely. His knock caught South Africa off the guard as India posted 209 runs. Pandya scored 93 and unfortunately couldn’t score a century. The hosts, with a lead of 77 runs, started well in the second innings. But Pandya again broke their back by taking a couple of wickets by the end of the second day. The third day was completely washed out but the clear and sunny skies welcomed the players on the fourth morning.

A lot of anticipation ended with Indian bowlers staging a stunning fightback by skittling South Africa out for just 130 runs in the first session. The target of 208 was achievable but surely the pace trio of the hosts was not going to make it easy for India. As it panned out, the visitors crumbled in front of some sensational swing bowling from Vernon Philander who registered his career-best figures (6/42). He was well supported by Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel who looked like taking a wicket every ball. South Africa now lead the series 1-0 and would want to seal the deal in Centurion.

Philander said:

It’s generally slow here. It caught us off-guard on the first morning. But the boys stuck to their guns. To get 286 was a wonderful effort with the bat. What better setting can you ask for. One of the better grounds to play cricket at. Just a great atmosphere. Lot of the times you have one bowler get the praise, but the way the bowlers stuck to their guns after being a seamer down was superb.

Coming back after the break, I felt a bit stiff. Just hope Dale gets back as quickly as possible. He’s been hell of a champion, hell of a leader for us. To see him go down is quite heartbreaking for the squad.

Faf du Plessis was extremely happy with the way his team responded in the pressure situations. He also felt sorry for Dale Steyn who has been ruled out of the series due to the bruised heel.

He said:

Every single time when we needed to stand up through tough periods, we responded beautifully. Didn’t plan to be 12/3, but we responded. Even today, after India got off to a decent start, we stuck to our plans and put great pressure on their batters. The first morning, we expected it to move around for the first hour. That total we felt was just around par. We felt 270 was going to be par.

Even in the second innings, from 90/7, AB played a great knock, he took some risks. Plan was to get 200 runs, to get a lead of 350 and to have a crack at them tonight. But we were surprised how much it was doing this morning. When we came in today, the pitch was green again, almost like the day 1 pitch. It was tough, they bowled really well. I think it was a fantastic cricket wicket.

There was a good challenge between bat and ball. Really important in a three-match series to put the opposition under pressure. If we had four seamers here today, Dale would have been a handful. Thoughts with him. Feel sorry for the guy. He’s trained so hard and he’s injured again. Thanks to the crowd, been a great crowd.

Virat Kohli rued the chances they missed in the first innings. The lead which they conceded proved to be the deciding one according to him. The skipper also hailed Pandya for his brilliant all-round performance.

He said:

If we had taken our chances in the first innings, even after them counter-attacking, we could have kept them to 220 which would have been ideal. We’re not a team which thinks of what-ifs though. Losing wickets in bunches is something we have to plug in. We were pretty much in the Test match on all days. We were thinking 250-275 (the target) if they play well. To restrict them to 210 was an outstanding effort.

We needed someone to get a 75-80. Credit to them, they were a bowler short and still bowled their heart out. We need to rectify our mistakes also. Mini collapses in both innings is something we have to think about, how to string in partnerships. This game is all about stringing in partnerships. They did that better than us. Bowlers learned pretty quickly from the first innings, whatever mistakes needed to be corrected.

We kept pulling things back against a side which is very strong at home. Still feeling good about how we went about this Test match. The mindset matters when you’re travelling away from home on pitches which challenge you. Need to be positive in defence and when you’re leaving also. You need to grab scoring opportunities. He’s (Hardik Pandya) a strong character. He backs himself and we believe in him. He’s performing for us now, even away from home. That knock was brilliant, showed a lot of character.

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