A series that Indian and South African fans had been waiting for finally has started; and what a test match it was. Having high expectations for the series, this test definitely showed that cricket fans are definitely in for a treat. It is the first match of the tour, and it has already had more action than the whole Ashes series.
The build up going into the game had Cricket South Africa and the ground staff at Newlands making sure that there was a substantial amount of green on the wicket: this being for the hope that the Proteas starting line up would have the four-pronged pace attack of Steyn, Rabada, Morkel, and Philander. With the dreadful drought in Cape Town at the moment, rain dances would have been performed before the match in hope of getting some green on the wicket.
The biggest shock may have been Faf’s decision to bat first at the toss, especially looking back at how much emphasis had been placed on the pitch and how it would work in favour of the South African bowlers. Most would have jumped at the opportunity to bowl first.
With the Proteas batting first, they had seen themselves batting with caution due to Elgar, Markram and Amla’s wickets falling to have the scorecard at 12-3. AB and Faf put on a helpful partnership which saw them both achieve their half centuries. Eventually the batsmen managed to put 286 runs on the board before being bowled out. It was time to see the bowlers put in their magic in the field.
India found themselves at 92-7, before being rescued by Pandya and Kumar putting on a very handy 99-run partnership to bring India to 209 before being bowled out. This gave Faf’s men a lead of 77 that could have been more.
Starting the second innings was a rocky one for South Africa, losing two quick wickets to Pandya just before stumps on day two. Day three was washed out, which was a much needed downpour (even though some people said the rain was being a pain).
Day four started with Amla and night-watchman Rabada at the crease on 59-2. Wickets falling quickly saw the Proteas on 130-9, before AB was caught at the boundary rope trying to go for a maximum. The fight back needed by SA pacers was always going to be a tough ask as they were a bowler short (Steyn ruled out of the test series for four-six weeks due to a bruised heel) and only having to defend 208 runs.
Wickets were falling coming at a smooth rate thanks to Morkel and Philander, leaving India three wickets down with 39 on the board when Indian captain Virat Kohli came on to bring the victory to his camp. A partnership worth a meagre but worrying 32 came to an end when Philander bowled Captain Kohli out for 28. Elation was shown from the Proteas and supporters knowing how important his wicket was. Sharma was offered a lifeline when Maharaj dropped a sitter off his bat, only to chop a delivery off Philander onto his stumps. The Indian star of the first innings in Pandya had hopes to replicate his 93 to bring India back into the game. He was caught by AB for 1 an over after Sharma’s dismissal.
A partnership of 49 between Ashwin and Kumar kept the Indian tail wagging, before Philander starred again, breaking their partnership at 49 and claiming Ashwin’s wicket. The last two wickets were picked up in the 42nd over, giving Philander a career best of 6-42.
South Africa won by 72 runs, bowling out the visitors for 135 runs. They are now 1-0 up in the three-match series. This was definitely a test match to be remembered had the result gone either way. It was a match in which the bowlers from both teams performed magnificently. My own gripe with the match is how the Protea bowlers could have wrapped up the innings a lot quicker than they did, for they let the tail wag a little more than they should have. Now what will be discussed is who will replace Dale Steyn in the squad. Go with an all-rounder? Bring back Temba Bavuma or Theunis de Bruyn? Or will they bring in an out-and-out pacer in Lungi Ngidi?