The Proteas’ familiar struggles with the ball, despite the presence of fast bowler Anrich Nortje, continued at tea on day one of the second Test against India at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
The hosts climbed to 168-2 at the interval, with opener Mayank Agarwal and captain Virat Kohli unbeaten on 86 and zero, respectively.
Fast bowler Kagiso Rabada struck shortly before the break. He removed half-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara with slight movement away, with slip fielder Faf du Plessis at hand to pouch the edge. That ended a dominant 138-run alliance alongside Agarwal.
Rabada had succeeded in the first session, too, with opener Rohit Sharma the victim of some steep bounce and a sharp angle.
Fast bowler Anrich Nortje bowled too full to Agarwal, who capitalised with a series of boundaries on the drive.
Earlier, Kohli won the toss and opted to bat first. This is his 50th Test as captain. Only Test retiree Mahendra Singh Dhoni has more.
India replaced batsman Hanuma Vihari with fast bowler Umesh Yadav, while the tourists dropped spinner Dane Piedt for debutant Nortje.
Nortje has been capped at ODI and T20I level and has taken 162 wickets in 47 first-class matches at an average of 25.72.
Last week’s 203-run victory in Visakhapatnam afforded India an early lead in the three-match series. That win was built on the back of a double-century from Agarwal.
India: Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
South Africa: Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje.
Photo: Gallo Images