Up, down, up, down, South Africa suffered a bumpy ride on Day One and did well to fight back and share honours with India in first Test at Newlands, Cape Town. They were bundled out for 286 but bounced back to reduce India 28/3. Earlier, it could have been worse for the hosts, especially after being reduced to 12/3 inside five overs. It was an early wake-up call as they struggled against the swing of Bhuvneshwar and lost the top order early.
They struggled to pick Bhuvneshwar who mixed his inswingers and outswingers well. However, the defining moment of the day came when AB de Villiers went on the counter-attack hitting Bhuvneshwar for four fours in an over. It released the pressure valve, if not for the counterattack, the pressure would have invariably mounted. De Villiers along with Faf du Plessis provided South Africa some relief. However, just when it looked like South Africa were finally achieving some stability, De Villiers dragged one onto the stumps. Du Plessis soon followed and South Africa were again jolted.
They struggled but survived. They never got a sustained momentum going. De Kock looked good but couldn't convert it into a big one. In a tricky situation, the lower-order put its hand up and chipped in with crucial contribution. The last four wickets added 84 runs. Vernon Philander (23), Keshav Maharaj (35) and Kagiso Rabada's (26) scores helped South Africa inch closer to 300 mark, which at one point seemed a distant dream.
That somehow, provided South Africa some momentum and they came out firing on all cylinders in the final 11 overs of the day. Vernon Philander, as ever, was disciplined and induced a false shot off Vijay. Steyn breathed fire as he was steaming in to bowl. He imbued excitement and bounced out Dhawan. Morkel continued from where he left off against Zimbabwe to remove Kohli with a peach off a ball.
South Africa are right back into this match sending India's top order back in the hut. The pace battery looks ominous, Rabada is yet to bowl. They need to make sure that they continue the same momentum going into day two. They need to maintain the same aggression. Build sustained pressure. India let it slip on a few occasions and that hurt them. With India fielding five specialist batsmen, South Africa would be looking to break the Pujara-Rohit stand as early as possible in the morning session. And then approach it step by step. The work is half done yet and the pacers would be looking to come out roaring again on Day Two.