Centurion: South Africa wrung the life out of Indian campaign’s first day, as the scorecard read 136/9 at stumps on Day 1.
Dale Steyn showed why he is the number one Test bowler in the world with a rich three wicket haul in spells where every delivery was a beauty to watch and a nightmare for the batsmen. He was brilliantly complemented by wingman Morne Morkel who had turned on a verbal attack against the visitors before the start of the Test series as he replaced the words with action, plucking four wickets in the process.
It was heartbreak for Harbhajan Singh fans as the Turbunator got out in the only way possible keeping his good form with the bat in mind – a run out. He was out at a score of 27 runs off 25 balls and his wicket triggered another collapse of sorts as it was followed by Morkel’s claiming of Ishant Sharma for a duck.
The penultimate wicket fell with Sreesanth giving some catching practice to the South African fielders as Morkel pocketed his fourth scalp of the day.
It was another one of those days when the fabled Indian batting crumbled like a fresh biscuit with Sachin Tendulkar being trapped plumb in front of the wicket to award Steyn his third wicket of the day, all with top class deliveries.
The post-tea session had yielded rich dividends for the home team as Steyn clean bowled VVS Laxman at a score of seven runs to expose the middle-order too early for the on song South African pacers. This did not stop the carnage as the new man on the crease, Suresh Raina, could not keep up with the pace and gave a thick edge to Ashwell Prince at third slip.
South Africa had taken honours as early as the first session of the rain-delayed first Test as the Indian scorecard read a bleak 55/3 at tea time on Day 1.
Tragedy had struck down heavy on the Indian top order as Rahul Dravid too fell cheaply with the scorecard not even reflecting the first fifty runs. He was claimed by Morkel as the speedster got his second scalp of the day, rewarded for his line and length.
India had lost their second wicket in the form of edgy Gautam Gambhir who looked nervous since his first step on the crease. He was claimed by Morkel for a score of five runs off 43 deliveries.
His stay on the crease was marked with uneasiness towards the tearing fast pace and bounce of the South African wickets that are a stark contrast from the run havens in India and perhaps the non adaptation to the conditions brought about his fall.
The first blood of the day was drawn by Steyn as he got the prized wicket of Sehwag for a duck. The thick outside edge got the Proteas the first laugh of the series and spelled hard work for the remaining batsmen. They however, could not grow up to the task and again showed their inability to handle the combination of lethal swing and bounce.
South Africa skipper Graeme Smith had won the toss and elected to bowl first at the SuperSport Park.
India (Playing XI): Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni(w/c), Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, S Sreesanth, Jaidev Unadkat
South Africa (Playing XI): Alviro Petersen, Graeme Smith(c), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Ashwell Prince, Mark Boucher(w), Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Lonwabo Tsotsobe