Faf du Plessis says South Africa took full advantage of the conditions at Newlands to win the first Test against India by 72 runs.
In an action-packed match, both sides struggled on the batting front, with the bowling attacks stepping up.
South Africa made 286 in their first innings, having been 12-3 early on, while India recovered from 92-7 to post 209.
The Proteas then collapsed from 52-0 in their second innings to make just 130, giving India a target of 208 to win the match. The visitors were on track at 30-0 but fell apart to be bowled out for 135.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Du Plessis won the toss and decided to bat first on a wicket that would offer the bowlers considerable assistance on day one.
‘We are a team that is prepared to take risks to win a game of cricket,’ he explained after his side had taken a 1-0 series lead. ‘We expected the first hour to be tough, but we knew, based on the assessment of the pitch, that it would speed up.
‘As you saw today, it was very tough to bat. We felt it would be harder for India to face pace and bounce. It did surprise me, however, how much pace the wicket had on the first morning, which is not something I’ve seen before at Newlands on day one, which made it a little trickier.
‘To give the groundsman credit, we asked for a pitch that had pace and bounce and a little bit of seam movement. This was a great contest between bat and ball and India would be the first to say it wasn’t a ridiculously sporting wicket.
‘This morning was really tough for us and was probably the toughest time to bat with the covers being on for two days. It felt unplayable when we batted.
‘Pace and bounce is something you look for in South Africa. There was movement in this Test match and overhead conditions and moisture did play a role.’
The Proteas skipper is hoping for similar pitches for the second and third Tests at Centurion and the Wanderers.
‘Those are wickets renowned to be a little bit quicker.’
Du Plessis said the Newlands match was a great advert for Test cricket.
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‘This is as good as it gets in Test cricket. Obviously, the crowd was incredible. We felt their support and it was amazing being on the field.
‘But also because of the type of cricket that was played. If you came to days one, two and four, it would have been one of the most exciting cricket games you would have seen. It definitely ranks up as one of my favourite Tests matches. The way it was played was remarkable.’
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