India vs SA as it happened: India ride Kohli ton to 255/5 on day one

22.00 IST: Cheteshwar Pujara: "Partnership with Kohli was crucial. The plan was to see off the new ball and then we can play our shots. The ball had good bounce and there was some movement but once the ball got old, it was easier to bat.

We had a chat (about the run-out). Sometimes the communication goes wrong.

In overseas conditions, it is important to stay on the crease and make them tired and then it is easy to score runs. They were bowling 4th and 5th stump lines and we had a plan not to play those deliveries.

21.30 IST: Steyn thinks he has Rahane trapped lbw after rapping him on the back pad but umpire Tucker shakes his head. He was hit in line alright, but the replays shows the ball was going over the stumps. Rahane has a quiet smile. It has been a gritty little innings from him.

Dhoni has shown admirable restraint as well. He has curbed his natural attacking instincts and focused on survival. Together, the pair has put on 36 runs from 14.3 balls to see India to 255 for 5 at the close of play.

India will be the happier of the two sides. They showed they can counter pace and bounce, with Kohli showing it can be trumped as well. South Africa were guilty of not bowling the right length and line often enough but still managed to keep the scoring rate down so India have not taken control of the match yet. Morkel was by the far the best of the bowlers, with figures of 1 for 27 from his 19 overs. The spinners were always going to find it tough though, and their 13 overs went for 77 runs, giving India a crucial release valve.

21.10 IST: Dhoni doing his best to get in line and use the full face of the bat. He is also standing on offstump to cover the swing the bowlers might get. South Africa took the new ball after 80 overs and Philander gets some bounce to take the top of Dhoni’s bat but the ball flew over the slips and Dhoni picked up four.

20.45 IST: The situation is not exactly set up for Dhoni’s many gifts. He likes to get a move on and play his shots, which is exactly the opposite of what he needs to do at this point in the match. As a result Morkel catches him on the arm as Dhoni tries and fails to evade a short ball. He does much better when he crashes a wide one past point though.

Just one more over for the new ball now.

20.30 IST: WICKET! Kohli c Duminy b Kallis 119 (181b 18x4 0x6)

Kohli has somehow managed to hit a half-volly straight to Duminy at short cover. It was there to be hit but Kohli couldn't keep it down and Duminy held on to the sharp catch. An unfortunate end to a quite brilliant innings. Duminy wasn't even sure it was out for a couple of seconds, so shocking was the lapse from Kohli.

20.14 IST: Kohli’s top score in Tests is 116. His top score in ODIs is 183. He needs to approach that mark to set India up in this Test. The session has also been extended by half an hour so South Africa can try and get all their overs in – that’s the problem with playing four fast bowlers.

Meanwhile Rahane should have got four from a low full toss from Duminy but sub fielder Robin Peterson slides across the turf using his chest like a sled and stops the ball with an extended arm so Rahane gets just one instead. Kohli makes up for it with a thunderous thump to wide long-on. Then Rahane gets a half-tracker too and this time whacks it where the fielder isn’t on the square leg boundary. 12 runs from the over – the 71st of the innings.

That flurry also brought up India’s 200. Then one from Kallis jags away from one of those cracks in the pitch and gets up close, but luckily for India not personal, with Rahane's hanging bat.

20.02 IST: Trouble for Steyn perhaps? He is leaving the field in the company of the trainer. He was flexing his foot a little earlier. If he doesn’t come back, it naturally makes things a bit easier for India.

20.00 IST: Rahane falling into the score-less trap batting with Kohli. At the very least he should be looking for singles to keep the strike rotating and the scoreboard moving. Taking up time is great, but runs are the currency India needs, especially with Duminy operating (which could be because of the slow over-rate).

There is warning sign too, when Rahane failed to get his bat out of the way of Morkel delivery in time and the bottom edge somehow evades his stumps.

19.40 IST: India not scoring runs but looking largely untroubled so Smith turns to Duminy for a little variety. He gets it too, as Kohli slaps the offspinner around for nine runs to get to his 100. Superb knock from India’s new No 4 batsmen. It is his 5th Test hundred and his second outside the subcontent. He has been brilliant today.

Took him 140 balls and contained 16 fours. He celebrates with a leap a la David Warner and punches the air.

19.35 IST: Kohli prepared to leave deliveries even though he is in the “nervous nineties”. Just nine runs have come from the first seven overs after tea. Kohli did flash at a wide one from Steyn but it was there to be hit. He just forgot to move his feet and missed it.

Good contest between a quality fast bowler and a quality batsman though

19.15 IST: India come out cautiously after the break before Philander gives Kohli a bit of width and he helps himself to four between point and cover. An easy single takes him to 90.

Philander hasn't been his usual self and Shaun Pollock tells us why

19.05 IST: And we are back. A big final session for both teams now. If these two can stick it out, India will end the day feeling good about themselves having batted first on a wicket with some help for the seamers. For South Africa, they will know a couple more wickets and they are into the tail, which is unlikely to wag against quality fast bowling. All to play for then.

You can see how the Test got to this point by reading Ashish Magotra's session report here.

And, as we like to do, here is a handy stat from Twitter:

18:45 IST: Rahane gets off the mark with a crisp clip off his pads that runs along merrily to the midwicket fence. Big innings this for Rahane. He needs to hang around and put some runs on the board or he risks surrendering his place in the side. Tahir helps him out with a low full toss on leg stump and another on off stump. That will make Rahane feel a lot better as tea is taken with India 164/4.

Kohli has been the star though, scoring over 50 percent of India's runs. The rest have stuck around, but haven't kept the scoreboard ticking. Kohli has done both admirably.

Before Rohit departed, it was India's session. That second wicket evened it out and the first day is now nicely poised heading in to the last session.

18:38 IST: WICKET! RG Sharma c †de Villiers b Philander 14

Rohit hasn’t been chasing the wide ones until now. No need for that shot, especially with tea around the corner, but he apparently couldn’t help himself. Philander finally rewarded for bowling outside offstump.

18:32 IST: Kohli has eased his way into the 80s while Rohit has taken on the Puajra role. He is happy to leave any delivery he doesn’t need to play. This is exactly the right approach. It forces the bowlers to bowl where you want them to bowl and if India don’t lose another wicket, it will frustrate the South Africans further, given they half-expected India to simply run and hide from the shiny new ball.

18:15 IST: The bowlers are starting to pitch the ball up and Kohli has started driving down the ground. Steyn is dispatched past mid-off, Kallis is sent packing straight down the ground.

In the next over, the 48th of the innnigns, Kallis goes up for a huge appeal for caught behind as Kohli tries to flick a legside delivery. The bowler was convinced he had got his man but the umpire is unmoved. He was right too, as the ball brushed the thigh pad and not the bat and the rules state that is not out.

Kallis meanwhile bowls a horrendous wide bouncer so far down the legside even leg gully would have had a hard time stopping that one. Kallis bowls a slower bouncer straight at Kohli next up and is pulled to deep midwicket for his trouble. This is very good batting from the man tipped to lead India in the future.

18:00 IST: After running out Pujara, Kohli tries to run himself out. Rohit shouts “No” as Kohli hares towards the keeper’s end and he is just about able to turn around and get back as the throw sailes wide and goes for overthrows. He needs to keep his head here and forget about what happened.

17:42 IST: WICKET! C Pujara run out 25 (98b, 2x4)

Kohli sold Pujara a dummy there. He set off for a quick single and Pujara followed his lead. But halfway through the run, Kohli decided to turn back and left Pujara stranded. Tahir fielded the ball off his own bowling and threw it to Amla, who took off the bails. Pujara wasn't even in the frame.

17.40 IST: Kohli is loving Tahir. Big stride forward and the inside-out cover drive is unstoppable. Smith playing into India’s here by bowling the leggie.

17.35 IST: Kohli already building a decent record in Tests. He also brings up India's 100 as well by clipping Morkel through midwicket for three.

17.30 IST: South Africa letting India off the hook after some tough overs following the luncheon interval. Morkel is short and wide and Kohli helps himself to the eighth four of his short, but highly effective, innings. Right now South Africa’s bowlers not making India’s batsmen play at enough deliveries.

On commentary, Rahul Dravid says that Kohli has become one of the hardest worker in this Indian side after realising talent would only take him so far.

Kohli goes on to thump Tahir to the midwicket boundary to bring up an excellent half-century, his 8th in Tests. Came from 76 balls and contained 9 fours.

At the other end, Pujara is happy to give Kohli most of the strike and block one end up. He won’t be a rush, will Pujara. He likes a good scrap too, though in a very different way from Kohli.

17.15 IST: Kohli creamed a wide delivery from Philander through the covers. No footwork but he threw everything at it. He will be positive, will young Kohli. He proves it again when he pulls a 144-kph Steyn bouncer to the square leg fence. Steyn has a few choice words for Kohli after that, which is not wise because it is really just fuel for Kohli’s batting genius. He likes a scrap. Gives him something to swear about.

Morne Morkel warming up while Philander wheels away to little effect. Morkel has been the most threatening of the SA bowlers so far.

Meanwhile Neil Manthorp has some praise for India coach Duncan Fletcher, otherwise known as the batting whisperer.

16.55 IST: Steyn started off the second session as well. If Kohli and Pujara get through the first hour, India will feel they are ahead of the game. There is talent in this Indian side. And heart.

The 50-partnership comes up courtesy a bouncer from Steyn that is called a wide.

If you want to catch up on the action, or just want our take on things, you can read Ashish Magotra's session-by-session report here.

16.00 IST: Steyn returns. Kohli gets India to 50 with a couple to mid-wicket. This is proper cricket now. There is reward for batsmen who grind it out and hang around. Some luck is necessary too on tracks like this. But it is important for both Pujara and Kohli to remember that runs can be made here.

India got a bit of a break as Imran Tahir bowled the last over before lunch. Kohli hammered a couple of half-trackers for boundaries to take his side to 70 for 2 at lunch. Somehow how Kohli, with all the edges and misses has scored his 32 at a run-a-ball. Pujara, who has faced 61 deliveries, has made 18, which tells you how well Kohli has done. The pair have added 46 together to repair the early damage caused by the loss of Dhawan and Vijay.

India will feel the better of the two sides, having lost just two wickets. South Africa, with first use of a green pitch, would have wanted, and expected more. The openers may not have scored many runs, but they did blunt the new ball and made it a touch easier for those that followed.

15.45 IST: Morkel causing no end of trouble. Pujara pushes at a full delivery but the edge bounces a couple of inches short of Smith at first slip. Morkel’s first spell reads 5-4-1-1. He has been outstanding.

At the other end, Puajra goes back and cuts Philander, who has replaced Kallis, to the point fence. Some brief respite for India.

Morkel continues and Kohli can’t decide whether to play or leave. He somehow gets four over slips to third man from an edge as he tried to take his bat away, then a single off an inside edge to fine leg as, once again, he tried to take his bat away. Not particularly encouraging if you are Indian fan. But Kohli survives, which is what matters.

15.30 IST: Kohli gets off the mark with an excellent swivel and pull off Kallis. He will not be intimidated by the short stuff. Big grin after that shot too since it took him 10 balls to get off the mark.

Meanwhile here’s a healthy serving of glass-half-full philosophy for Indian fans.

15.12 IST: WICKET! Vijay c †de Villiers b Morkel 6 (42b 1x4 0x6)

Morkel pitches on up after the drinks break and Vijay can’t resist chasing it. The thin nick is gleefully accepted by the keeper. Vijay had b een softened up by the short stuff and then served the full delivery. Excellent bowling by Morkel.

In the balcony, Duncan Fletcher rubs his forehead with a worried look on his face. No wonder with India 24/2 after an hour and a quarter of play. The visitors need Kohli and Pujara to see out this session. The pitch should ease up a touch after lunch.

By the way, that delivery was 145.4 kph.

15.05 IST: Morne Morkel has replaced Philander after 11 overs and immediately went past Pujara’s outside edge with one that was short, nasty and brutish, to steal Hobbe’s famous phrase and use it in a competely different context. Morkel looked a lot more hostile in his opening over than either Steyn or Philander.

Kallis has taken Steyn’s place.

In his second over, Morkel thunders one into Vijay’s ribs and it pops and arcs slowly away from Amla, who takes a few step and dives to his left but spills the chance as he hits the ground. A life for Vijay. Morne's first two overs have gone for precisely one run.

This stat goes a long way towards explaining India’s troubles away from home, sweet, home.

14.40 IST: WICKET! S Dhawan c Imran Tahir b Steyn 13 (37m 27b 2x4 0x6)

Dhawan gives it away. He had survived an ungainly pull earlier in the over when the ball got big on him but couldn’t resist another go despite two men in the deep. The first time he split them, this time he found the man at fine leg. The short ball has worked for South Africa. Took nine overs to get the breakthrough.

Cheteshwar Pujara is the new man.

Steyn bowling in the low 140s while Philander is the low-to-mid 130s. That’s kph for those of you who keeping score at home.

Meanwhile this was overheard in the office: “Ntini is finished, it is?” To be fair, the gentleman is a football fan and doesn’t care much for cricket.

Not many people in the ground to witness Dhawan’s dismissal though.

14.20 IST: After five overs, India looking solid. India's openers watchful early on. Happy to leave deliveries outside the off stump and presenting the full face of the bat the rest of the time. Steyn provided the first bouncer in the third over. Vijay ducked well under it. The two then glared at each other. The games have well and truly begun.

Steyn also jams Dhawan, who in an ungainly and un-Dhawan like fashion, fends the ball to where short leg might have been, but was not. First really uncomfortable moment for either opener.

In other news, here's your typically optimistic Indian cricket fan. Then again, he could also be your typical realistic Indian cricket fan.

14.05 IST: Dale Steyn has the new nut. No surprises there. Three slips and a gully ready and waiting.

Steyn some outswing from the start as Vijay leaves the first ball well alone. The second is pitched further up and draws Vijay forward for the first play-and-miss of the day. Expect plenty of those. The first runs come from a punch down the ground for four off a full delivery. That was right off the middle of the bat and just a push, really. The ball does race to the fence at The Wanderers.

India 4/0 after the first over.

Meanwhile here's a stat for you.

13.58 IST: A little bit of nostalgia before the start of play. And rightly so. This is new, strange world that we will all have to figure out together.

13.50 IST:

Dale Steyn: "Seems like we have a little bit of a bottle over them. Coming in to this Test match, with the bowling we have, we can do the same thing. the unit seems to be working perfectly."

As for the strategy they will use against India, simple really: "Hit them with pace. Bounce. Indians don't really enjoy that."

13.42 IST:

This is Dhoni's 50th Test as captain. He goes past Sourav Ganguly today. Only Arjuna Ranatunga ahead of him from the subcontinent.

13.40 IST:

Dhoni called heads correctly and opted to bat first, which shows he is backing his batsmen.

Dhoni: "Changing room has been good. We put a lot of emphasis on that, irrespective of whether you are doing well or not.

"You have to bowl the right areas to start off and if you spend some time in the middle, if you get set, you can score some runs.

For India, Rahane is batting at No 6. Shami and Ishant are the two seamers who will partner Zack. Ashwin is the sole spinner.

Here are the XIs:

India
: M Vijay, S Dhawan, CA Pujara, V Kohli, RG Sharma, AM Rahane, MS Dhoni*†, R Ashwin, I Sharma, Z Khan, Mohammed Shami.

South Africa
: GC Smith*, AN Petersen, HM Amla, JH Kallis, AB de Villiers†, F du Plessis, JP Duminy, VD Philander, DW Steyn, M Morkel, Imran Tahir.

13.30 IST: Shaun Pollock has a look at the pitch and says the first day will have some movement, but will be slower than normal. The pitch will get quicker as the Test progresses. There is grass on the pitch too, and some cracks that might come in to play on the fourth or fifth day. He doesn't expect much turn for the spinners though.

13.25: Shastri has a chat with Zaheer, who says he has worked very hard on his fitness. "Enjoyed the process," he said. Zaheer says bowling more than 200 overs in first-class cricket has prepared him nicely for the tour.

As for the washed-out practice match, he said it doesn't matter much because they have got some good practice sessions in and worked on hitting the deck hard. "Everyone is upbeat. Looking forward to the challenge. Hope today is our day."

Then a smile when asked about Graeme Smith, who he has dismissed 8 times in Tests.

13.15: The captains with the trophy. Why are most cricket trophies so ugly?

13.00: We are just under an hour away from the start of the first Test. South Africa's decision to pick Tahir is interesting. You would have thought they would pick four fast bowlers to intimidate India. Facing a spinner, even one bowling well, is not going to scare India. At the same time, spinners need the backing of their captain to be successful. So it is good to see Smith backing Tahir. Now it is up to Tahir to deliver.

11.30 IST:  A report on Sport24 says that Graeme Smith has opted to go with spinner Imran Tahir, thus ending speculation of whether the hosts would go with a full-pace attack.

"Imran is bowling well and has a lot of confidence. However, it could be that the spinner's role is limited in this Test," Smith was quoted as saying.

There will be only one change from the team that faced Pakistan in the UAE in October — Hashim Amla in for Dean Elgar.

South Africa XI:  Graeme Smith, Alviro Petersen, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn, Morné Morkel, Imran Tahir.

Steyn and Amla — two of SA's biggest players. Reuters

Steyn and Amla — two of SA's biggest players. Reuters

Preview: There is a first time for everything but you could forgive MS Dhoni if he was wishing it wasn’t the first time for so many of his team-mates in South Africa.

The last time India toured South Africa, Virender Sehwag opened the batting, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar followed at Nos 3 and 4 and VVS Laxman was around to prop up the middle and lower orders. For those counting at home, that’s over 40,000 Test runs that India can no longer lean on.

This time just four members of India’s 17-man squad, including Dhoni, have toured South Africa before. Only five of them have played as many as 20 Tests, and that includes Pragyan Ohja, who is yet to play a Test outside the subcontinent. The thin edge of the experience wedge does not get much thinner.

In contrast, South Africa’s spine is still very much intact. The batting boasts Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers, while the Dale Steyn-Morne Morkel duet has become a trio with the rise of Vernon Philander.

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