The Proteas’ decision to name three specialist spinners in their XI failed to reap early reward on day one of the first Test against India in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
Left-armer Keshav Maharaj and off-spinner Dane Piedt were introduced as early as the ninth and 19th overs, respectively. Piedt extracted marginally more turn from the surface than Maharaj. Both, however, proved ineffective.
Piedt’s struggles were epitomised by the dominance of the aggressive Rohit Sharma, who was solid in a new-found role as Test-match opening batsman. Sharma struck Piedt, who hasn’t played Test cricket in three years prior to Wednesday, for three straight sixes.
Piedt eventually approached the right-handed Sharma from around the wicket. The batsman was briefly troubled on the sweep, but not enough to suggest a turn in the head-to-head contest.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada’s wide lines didn’t make the batsmen play at enough deliveries – and wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock stood up to the stumps when seamer Vernon Philander was bowling. De Kock’s tactic, at least, limited Sharma and fellow opener Mayank Agarwal’s footwork.
India moved to 91 without loss at lunch, after captain Virat Kohli had won the toss and opted to bat first on an evidently tame pitch. The tourists debuted left-arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy.
India: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Vernon Philander, Senuran Muthusamy, Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada.
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