South Africa will feel themselves in the ascendancy after India finished the opening day of the first Test at Newlands on 28/3 in their reply to the hosts' 286 on Friday.
Faf du Plessis won the toss and decided to bat on a wicket very favourable to fast bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar made the most of the conditions and took three early wickets. Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla were the victims of Bhuvneshwar's controlled and accurate bowling.
However, India failed to put their foot down and the result was solid fifties from AB de Villiers (65) and du Plessis (62). The 114-run stand for the fourth wicket between them bothered the tourists not a little. However, once de Villiers and du Plessis were removed by Hardik Pandya and Test debutant Jasprit Bumrah respectively, the Indians found their feet back.
One must say India should have done better thereafter having found themselves into South Africa's lower order with little trouble. A 60-run stand between Quinton de Kock and Vernon Philander and a 37-run eight-wicket stand between Keshav Maharaj and Kagiso Rabada frustrated the visitors a great deal.
To be frank, the Indians bowlers lacked penetration bowling to South Africa's tail-enders and ended up giving more runs than they should have. A drop catch from Dhawan further aggravated India's problems. He spilled Maharaj in the slips on zero and the South African went on to score 35 runs. India eventually bowled the hosts out for 286 with Bhuvneshwar Kumar returning 4/87. R Ashwin picked up two, while Mohammed Shami, Pandya and Bumrah took one each.
In their reply, India got off to a horrendous start and lost Murali Vijay (1), Shikhar Dhawan (16) and captain Virat Kohli (5) in the blink of an eye. Both Vijay and Murali were caught behind off Philander and Morne Morkel, while Dhawan tried to play an adventurous pull off Dale Steyn but failed to execute it properly and the waiting fast bowler gleefully pouched the skier. Cheteshwar Pujara (5) and Rohit Sharma (0) were at the crease and have a big responsibility of bailing the team out on Saturday.
Rohit will particularly be under pressure to vindicate his presence in the starting XI eleven ahead of Ajinkya Rahane, whose exclusion from the XI came as a shock to many in light of his excellent performance in Tests, especially on the road.