At stumps, Mohammed Shami sent back Aiden Markram even as Dean Elgar (11 batting) and Keegan Pietersen (14 batting) took South Africa to 35 for 1. It could have been two down, with Rishabh Pant dismissing Pietersen off a Jasprit Bumrah delivery, which seemed to be one. hold regulation.
Worse, Mohammad Siraj looked like a hamstring strain and if it’s bad news, India would have four bowlers left.
However, a lot of the blame must go to India’s batsmen as some like Pujara showed no intention of scoring while others like Rahane lacked confidence.
This prompted the great Sunil Gavaskar to say that it is on air, “I think the next innings will be his last chance.” Abandoning hopes of playing for England, Duane Olivier (3/67 in 17 overs), playing his first game in three years for South Africa, was struck by successive deliveries to Pujara (3 off 33 balls) and Rahane (0). But out made it. difficult for Indians
Marco Jensen (4/31 in 17 overs), with his massive frame, made odd lengths for every Indian batsman, while Kagiso Rabada (3/64 in 17.1 overs) did not take the wicket despite his best performance.
In his first game as captain, Rahul played 133 deliveries and worked hard. He was full of short balls. He would lean towards some and dodge others while pulling what he could.
His back-foot driving was superb and he rode the boom as he went for catchy cut shots.
Such is the beauty of the game that Rahul, who was not supposed to debut as an opener in England until five months ago, is now being groomed as an all-format Indian captain.
If the first day’s sobriety is any indication, he will do no evil.
But then there was a moment of indiscretion when he played a pull shot too high and was dismissed in the fine leg area.
Before that shot, which he occasionally played, Rahul rolled his bat and tried to land it, but in this case, he came under Jansen’s short ball and did not get the required height. He put up a fine short partnership of 42 runs with Hanuma Vihari (20) before an inspiring close-in from Rassi van der Dussen at short leg sent back the latter.
Rishabh Pant (17) and an attacking Ashwin (24 batting 21 balls) added 40 runs in quick time but India needed a partnership of at least 75, if not 100.
Early on, Mayank Agarwal (26) looked fluent in the first hour with five fours before Janssen pulled one off at a spot not at observable length as it climbed. The opener only went for a drive to edge off wicketkeeper Kyle Wren.
Rahul, on his part, escaped with a strong catch back and leg before appeal, which was denied by debuting umpire Allahuddin Palekar, who impressed on debut.
But what will frustrate Pujara and Rahane the most is that the day they should have taken more responsibility in Kohli’s absence, they could not even infuse a sense of positivity into India’s approach.
The way Pujara jumped and released the rising balls, in fact the dressing room would have felt nervous about the demons in the pitch, which was not the case. But there was definitely seam and bounce which is expected here in South Africa.
He once again got into a shell and was very uneasy against the sharp boom which eventually ended in his destruction.
Olivier’s natural back off length delivery was the perfect recipe for disaster as he widened a short leg fielder but the next lobbed the man for an easy catch.
Rahane’s dismissal belonged to a player who has lost his confidence.
The ball pitched over the fourth stump channel, undecided whether to play or not, and Rahane hung his bat to take a catch at slips.
This match is definitely not going to last and if they fail to make a difference in the second innings, the tremendous patience the Indian team management has shown towards them will surely start to falter. PTI KHS PM PM
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