South Africa vs India, 3rd Test, Day 1 - 5 Talking Points

South Africa vs India, 3rd Test, Day 1 – 5 Talking Points

Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara then provided a marathon resistance in terms of time spent at the crease.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Team India were brutally scrutinized after their two consecutive defeats against South Africa in the 3-match series. The series was tipped to be the ‘real’ test for the Virat Kohli-led side. And it would not be wrong to concede that the number one side failed to live up to their name and reputation. Having lost the series already, they had nothing but pride to play for in the final Test at the Wanderers, Johannesburg.

The venue was tipped to be the toughest for the visitors on the tour thus far. As things turned out to be on the day, it was not easy work for the Indian team again. After having elected to bat first, team India lost both their openers cheaply. Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara then provided a marathon resistance in terms of time spent at the crease.

Kohli perished after his fifty and so did Pujara. It was followed by a batting collapse that saw the Indian innings wrap up on 187. Bhuvneshwar Kumar added 30 valuable runs towards the end. The South African innings saw an early jitter as well. The precision of Bhuvneshwar Kumar saw Aiden Markram edge one to the wicketkeeper in the third over itself. South Africa finished the day at 6/1 and they now trail by 181 runs.

Here are the 5 Talking Points from the day 1 play of the Johannesburg Test:

1. Early jolts for India, Kohli rides on his luck

Indian skipper Virat Kohli finally won a toss on the tour. Surprisingly, he opted to bat first on a lively track. He would have ideally liked to see his openers see the new ball through. Much to his and the rest of Indian fans’ disappointment, the failure of the Indian openers continued. KL Rahul was the first to be dismissed on the day as a nothing shot from him saw Vernon Philander draw first blood.

By the 9th over, the other opener, Murali Vijay, was also back in the dressing room giving his wicket away to Kagiso Rabada on 7. The struggle for the Indian openers was real as luck did not go their way. But the luck certainly looked in Kohli’s corner as he saw quite a few let offs on the day. He was dropped by Philander early on in the innings. Later, AB de Villiers dropped him in the slips too.

2. Cheteshwar Pujara’s marathon resistance

The entire Indian batting, save Virat Kohli, has been under the scanner for underperforming in the series. Despite this, one man who was under more pressure than anybody else was Cheteshwar Pujara. Pujara has been India’s batting mainstay in the longest format of the game in the recent years. Hence, his failure did hurt India.

But on the first day at Wanderers, he played a fighting knock to save some grace for his side. Pujara took 54 deliveries to get off the mark. He showed what patience and determination could do at the crease. In the age of fast cricket, Pujara stands as the prime example of how classical batting can save a side. He was eventually dismissed on 50 that came off 179 deliveries.

3. Kohli perishes, tame end to Ajinkya Rahane’s comeback

Coming in to the game, a lot of talk was about Ajinkya Rahane. Rahane is tipped as one of finest Indian cricketers in overseas conditions. Given the kind of run he has had on overseas tours in the recent past, many believed it was unfair to drop him from the side for the first two Tests.

Well, Rahane did get his chance in this game. However, he could not do much justice to his lucky break. He was dismissed on 9 that came off 27 deliveries. Much to his defense, the track was venomous and the lbw decision was very close. Earlier, skipper Virat Kohli had perished right after scoring his fifty. He was dismissed by Lungi Ngidi for the second time in the series.

4. Indian batting collapse; Bhuvi plays the saving grace; South African bowlers make merry

Cheteshwar Pujara did all the hardwork for his fifty but his resistance came to an end after he edged one after reaching the milestone. Rahane was back in the hut too. Parthiv Patel’s struggle against the short deliveries looked predictable as he perished for 2. Hardik Pandya, who has made it a habit of playing a reckless shot to get out, was dismissed for a duck. The wickets kept tumbling and the Indian innings ended on 187.

Had there not been a final flourish of 30 runs from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, things would have been worse. Meanwhile, South African bowlers shared the wickets among themselves. Rabada was the pick of bowlers with 3/39 while Morne Morkel, Andile Phehlukwayo, and Philander bagged 2 wickets each. Ngidi had the big fish Virat Kohli.

5. Bhuvi strikes early, South Africa still in control

Bhuvneshwar Kumar continued his impressive run of form with the ball as well. He struck in his second over of the innings. He managed to get a decent edge off the bat of Aiden Markram to give an early jolt to South Africa. The cautious Proteas camp sent in Kagiso Rabada as the night watchman. Rabada did a decent job of seeing the ball through and South Africa finished the day at the score of 6/1. They certainly finished the day with their noses ahead in the game. India will have to do something miraculous to get back in to the game from this stage.

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