The Proteas bowled an Indian Board President’s XI out for 296 before closing on 46-2, on day one of the two-day warm-up match in Mumbai.
Attention has officially turned to the longer format of the game for the Proteas, but the two-day match is all they have to work with before they face India in the first Test in Mohali on 5 November. It was an opportunity, then, for skipper Hashim Amla to test the depth he had at his disposal.
Losing the toss and being sent out to field, Amla used nine bowlers in all; some more than others. Morne Morkel came on, bowled five maidens and then was sent back to put his feet up. He is still recovering from a quad strain which kept him out of last two ODIs recently.
Likewise Stiaan van Zyl, who sent down five overs of medium pace and conceded just 11 runs. Imran Tahir’s legspin returned 1-16 off six and Kagiso Rabada 0-35 off eight.
Dale Steyn (3-46) and Vernon Philander (2-37) were given a decent run, as was Simon Harmer, who helped clean up the tail to take 3-41 off 11 with his offspin. In the battle of offies, though, Dane Piedt took a bit of a pounding, averaging 5.55 an over through the course of 16 overs.
JP Duminy sat out this two-day match to give his hand more time to recover. It was damaged during the third ODI against India in Rajkot on October 18 and the stitches will be removed in the next few days. Team management apparently give him a 50-50 chance of being ready for the first Test.
Still, the Indians were able to rumble along at 3.75 an over, with the tail proving fairly stubborn. After they chose to bat, Steyn and Philander cracked the top order to have the hosts at 27-3. But then Lokesh Rahul dug in to add 105 with Karun Nair (44). He followed Nair in quick succession for 72, but Naman Ojah took over to score a breezy fifty with seven fours and a six.
Contributions lower down the order from Hardik Pandya (47) and Jayant Yadav (22) got their side close to 300, before Piedt got the final wicket.
If there were any question marks surrounding the Proteas’ opening pair going into this series, they have all but been cleared up now as Stiaan van Zyl and Dean Elgar walked to the crease, and the boundaries flowed despite having just 10 overs to see off the day’s play. It backfired for Van Zyl, who fell for 18. Harmer strode out as the nightwatchman, but he would only last three balls to become Shardul Thakur’s second victim. The umpires had seen enough, for the Proteas to close on 46-2.