Morne Morkel struck late in the second session to leave India on 114-4 at tea on day one.
Neither side has managed to take control of this contest just yet. Virat Kohli won the toss on a cloudy morning at the Wanderers, and opted to bat despite the grass on the pitch. That decision certainly appeared flawed when the visitors lost two early wickets.
The Proteas lost their way thereafter. Inconsistent and occasionally wayward bowling, exacerbated by some poor fielding, resulted in several chances being missed before lunch, and again after the break.
Kohli was put down at mid-off before lunch and then at slip after the break. The hosts failed to review a lbw call that would have – according to television replays – sent Cheteshwar Pujara back to the pavilion.
Vernon Philander thought that he had Ajinkya Rahane dead to rights until a subsequent review revealed that the bowler had overstepped. While that mistake didn’t cost the Proteas many runs – Rahane was removed soon after – it did sum up the hosts’ day. They made too many basic errors.
Kohli played with confidence after the break, driving the bowlers through the covers on the off-side. Kohli and Pujara – who has battled to time the ball since coming to the crease – put on 84 runs for the third wicket to provide the India innings with some stability, if not some impetus.
Lungi Ngidi, who claimed Kohli’s wicket in the second innings at Centurion, stepped up for his team once again. Kohli drove at a full delivery, found the edge, and sent it screaming to slip. This time, AB de Villiers – who had dropped Kohli earlier – hung on.
Morkel eventually obtained some reward when Rahane missed a straight ball and was given out lbw shortly before tea. With Pujara struggling and a new man in Parthiv Patel at the crease, the Proteas should fancy their chances of making further inroads after the break.
India 114-4 – Virat Kohli 54, Cheteshwar Pujara 27 not out, Lungi Ngidi 1-7, Vernon Philander 1-22
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix