The three-match Test series between host South Africa and visitors India started on Boxing Day at Centurion's SuperSport Park. This is South Africa's first ICC Test Championship series in the second cycle (2021-2023). India, on the other hand, is in the third series in the tournament's second edition. After electing to bat first, India finished day one with a total of 272/3. KL Rahul's brilliant century has taken India to a good total in the first innings. Take a look at the highlights from the opening day of the first Test between South Africa and India.
SA vs IND 1st Test 2021: First Day Highlights
Centurion is known for producing sporting pitches over the years. As per the statistics, team bat first has won 11 matches, team bat second has won 12, and just three matches have ended in a draw. By these stats, the team that can outperform the opposition in every department has a better chance of succeeding on this ground.
Given South Africa's current batting prowess, India captain Virat Kohli felt that putting up a high total in the first innings would be the best tactic against the Proteas in a Test match. The openers answered well, putting together a 117-run partnership.
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Both KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were keen on being firm at the crease in order to bat for extended periods of time. They were wary about two of the best fast bowlers in the world right now and didn’t make unnecessary efforts to increase the run rates. Both batsmen were able to deal with a powerful South African bowling unit by using better techniques. India were 83/0 in 28 overs at lunch, with Mayank Agarwal scoring the most runs of the two batters.
After the post-lunch session, South Africa had to wait more than an hour for the much-needed first breakthrough. South African players asked for Ibw after Lungi Ngidi's rising up delivery hit Mayank Agarwal's front pad. The on-field umpire was unsatisfied. The Proteas captain Dean Elgar took the review and reply showed that the ball would hit the leg stump. Mayank Agarwal returned to the pavilion after a well-made 60-run knock.
New batter Pujara just faced one ball in the first inning because Ngidi hit again with an excellent length delivery in the next ball. South African bowlers made some adjustments in the second session. They aimed outside the off-stump channel in the first session, but they delivered as many balls as possible in the good length area in the second session. This strategy worked out perfectly for the host.
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India was under some strain after losing two wickets in a row. The pressure from the South African bowlers was soaked up by an 82-run partnership between Captain Virat Kohli and KL Rahul. Ngidi struck again with an outside off delivery to Virat Kohli in the next session, who was batting at 35. Kohli went out to play Ngidi's outside off delivery, but a thick edge only found Mulder at first slip. Virat Kohli has gone another innings without scoring a century. He hasn't struck an international century since the Pink-ball Test against Bangladesh in 2019.
The South African campaign aimed to put extra pressure on India's batting line-up, but an unbroken 73*-run partnership between KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane rescued the day. With 40*, Rahane has stayed unbeaten, while KL Rahul has struck an unbeaten 122*, his seventh Test century. Rahul has played a classical knock which will boost his confidence to perform even better in Test cricket.
Only Lungi Ngidi has been a successful bowler for South Africa, having taken all three Indian wickets so far.
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India have made a strong start in the series-opening Test match against South Africa with a strong batting showing from the openers. KL Rahul is renowned for being a perfect batsman in limited-over formats, but his recent efforts in the longer-version format have shown that the right-hander is also capable of unleashing his full potential in Test cricket. Indian campaign is concerned over Virat Kohli's longest century drought. Virat must overcome his psychological barrier in order to achieve the three-figure mark on the international stage. The second day of the South Africa-India 1st Test will be crucial for both teams, with India aiming for a huge first-innings total and South Africa aiming to keep India under 400.