India recovered after losing both openers to go to lunch on 45-2 on day one at the Wanderers.
What was Virat Kohli thinking? It rained overnight in Johannesburg and there was plenty of cloud cover around the Wanderers. The pitch was by all accounts a seamer’s dream, so why then did the India captain opt to bat first in such challenging conditions?
Faf du Plessis clearly did not want to bat and the Proteas came into this game with five seamers, with Andile Phehlukwayo replacing off-spinner Keshav Maharaj. Du Plessis said at the toss that he would have bowled first if he was given the option.
Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel did well to build the early pressure as the ball was swinging and seaming in the initial stages. There was also plenty of bounce on offer, and the India openers never looked comfortable.
Philander removed Lokesh Rahul in the fourth over with a ball that cut back into the right-handed batsman and caught the inside edge while Murali Vijay decided to counterattack against Kagiso Rabada, but failed to move his feet sufficiently, got an edge and was caught behind.
Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara fought for survival in the period leading up to lunch. Pujara appeared horribly out of touch, taking 54 balls to score his first run while Kohli also looked suspect against the short ball.
The Proteas missed a big opportunity 30 minutes before the breaks as Rabada dug the ball in short, and Kohli went on the hook.
The ball didn’t go far, though, and Philander at mid-off rushed in to attempt the catch. India – and Kohli, who was on 11 at the time – were however let off as Philander put the chance down.
India did enough to survive thereafter, while they scored at less than two runs per over, they went to the break with only two wickets down.
The Proteas should look to make inroads as soon as possible after lunch as conditions remain favourable for the seam bowlers, and one would expect the hosts to obtain some reward sooner rather than later.
India 45-2 – Virat Kohli 24 not out, Vernon Philander 1-1, Kagiso Rabada 1-15
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