Aiden Markram scored 51 not out as the openers steered the Proteas to 78-0 at lunch on day one at Centurion.
Advantage South Africa. After winning the toss and opting to bat, the hosts have come through the first session of this crucial Test with all 10 first-innings wickets intact.
Captains Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli lauded the ground staff in the wake of an absorbing contest at Newlands. Many expected the conditions at Centurion to mirror those at Newlands, and for the seamers to dominate from the outset.
At the toss, however, Du Plessis opted to bat after the coin fell in his favour. Kohli admitted that he too would have batted if he was given the option to do so.
The India bowlers didn’t receive much seam assistance from the surface during the initial stages of the session. That said, the South African batsmen had to be watchful given the inconsistent bounce.
Markram was the chief aggressor for the hosts. Elgar, however, took some time to settle. Eighteen overs passed before Elgar scored his first boundary.
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The Proteas scored just 36 runs in the first hour of play. Elgar offered up the only real chance thereafter, when he hooked Jasprit Bumrah to backward square leg. Murali Vijay misjudged the flight of the ball, and it travelled over his head to the boundary.
The Proteas proceeded to take Bumrah for three boundaries in the 21st over. This was the turning point, as the hosts started to gather momentum in the lead-up to lunch.
Ravi Ashwin felt that he had Elgar caught behind shortly thereafter. The review proved unsuccessful, though, when TV replays confirmed that the left-handed batsman had missed the ball by some distance.
Markram continued to strike the ball sweetly. He reached his half-century – his second in Test cricket – off 81 balls.
The openers have put together a partnership of 78 off 27 overs. The platform has been set, and the onus is now on the remaining batsmen to translate this good start into a formidable first-innings total.
SA 78-0 (1st innings) – Aiden Markram 51 not out, Dean Elgar 26 not out
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