In a riveting day of Test cricket, South Africa bounced back to reduce India to 28/3 after being bowled out for 286 on Day One of the first Test in Cape Town. India opted for a brave move and went in with three pacers, one all-rounder and one spinner which meant that they went in with five specialist batsmen, a rare move. Kohli is known for pulling off gallant moves. South Africa opted to bat after winning the toss, a surprising decision considering the pitch looked green and they had gone in with a four-man pace attack. Kohli said he would have anyway opted to bowl. His decision would have vindicated as Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off with a bang with three wickets in first five overs. The South African top order was demolished courtesy some brilliant swing bowling. The pacers kept nagging away but under pressure. Just as the pacers were building pressure, AB de Villiers launched a counter-attack, smashing four boundaries in an over off Bhuvneshwar.
It was intriguing. It was fascinating. India then let it slip a little as De Villiers and Faf du Plessis steadied the ship with a 113-run stand. Just when it looked that it was drifting away slightly from India, Jasprit Bumrah struck on debut to remove the dangerous De Villiers, and just when it looked that Du Plessis was getting into the flow, Hardik Pandya sent him back.
While South Africa never gained sustained momentum, it was the little partnerships that kept India frustrating throughout the day. Quinton De Kock and Vernon Philander added 60 for the sixth wicket, Philander and Keshav Maharaj shared 19 runs for the seventh, Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada stitched 37-run stand for the eighth while Dale Steyn and Rabada garnered 22. In between, Dhawan dropped a simple catch of Maharaj, when he hadn't even opened his account, at third slip, and that hurt them.
India had to see off a tricky period of 11 overs but for some unfathomable reasons, they went for audacious shots. Vijay was caught driving uppishly while Dhawan went for a pull off Steyn, only top edging it back to the bowler. Kohli fiddled with one outside off and was caught behind off the first delivery of Morkel spell.
India will again look up to Cheteshwar Pujara for providing stability. Rohit Sharma, who had been in brilliant form in white ball cricket of late, is looking to cement his place in the starting eleven and this is his chance to vindicate Kohli's trust in him. The duo can compliment each other with calm and aggression and they would look to tread the De Villiers-Du Plessis path in order to pull India out of inertia. With India playing just five specialist batsmen, they need a big partnership from this duo. South Africa will come hard, and it's not just Rohit and Pujara, the lower-order contribution will also play a crucial role if India are to eye a lead. Another fascinating day's play awaits us.