It’s only Day 1 in this third and final Test between South Africa and India and the game has moved forward pretty swiftly after India won the toss and opted to bat first. However, they couldn’t make it big and were bundled out for just 223.
Skipper Virat Kohli stood tall with an inspiring knock of 79 while Cheteshwar Pujara got 43. But none of the others came to the party and India eventually posted a total that seems well below par. Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen shared seven wickets between them while the rest of the three bowlers picked up one wicket each.
South Africa batted for eight overs and lost captain Dean Elgar as Jasprit Bumrah got India the vital breakthrough. The hosts are 17/1 at the moment and trail India by 206 runs.
Here are the talking points from the match:
Virat Kohli stands tall but the wait for No. 71 continues
Virat Kohli was back in the Indian playing XI after recovering from his back spasms which forced him to miss the second Test in Johannesburg. He batted well in the first Test but threw away some good starts. However, that wasn’t in the case in this game. The Indian Test captain batted beautifully and stood tall.
Kohli walked out to bat at No. 4 with India’s score reading 33/2 and India had lost both their openers in the space of six deliveries. He was very patient and it was only on the 16th ball of his knock that Kohli got off the mark. It was his trademark cover drive. He looked rock solid at his end and despite India losing wickets regularly at the other end, Kohli ensured he held fort and took India past the 200-run mark.
The Delhi lad who hasn’t scored an international ton since November 2019 looked all set for a big one. He left well outside the off-stump and survived quite a few testing spells, especially one from Kagiso Rabada in the second session. Kohli punished anything too full and played a few exquisite drives through the off-side and down the ground. He reached his half-century off the 158th ball which is the second-slowest in his Test career.
Kohli soon started running out of partners and in search of runs, he lost patience and Rabada had the last laugh against him. The Indian skipper was out on 79 and the wait for the 71st international hundred continues.
Another failure for Ajinkya Rahane
Hanuma Vihari didn’t do much wrong in the second Test but India opted to go with the experienced Ajinkya Rahane in this Test match. However, the former vice-captain continued to disappoint. Apart from an odd innings here and there like the one in the second innings of the second Test, Rahane hasn’t done much in the last couple of years.
Rahane averages a mere 24.78 since the start of 2020 and he has just four fifty-plus scores from 34 innings in this period. He average falls to 21 since January 2021. While there is no doubt, he comes up with crucial knocks when his place is under scrutiny but those are few and far in between. With the likes of Hanuma Vihari and Shreyas Iyer waiting in the wings, Rahane could well have one more innings to save his Test career (as was the case in the second Test when he got 58 in the second innings).
Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen run through the Indian batting line-up
Dean Elgar had mentioned something spurred Kagiso Rabada in the second Test in Johannesburg which led to him taking three wickets in the span of 10 balls and turning the Test match on its head. The ace South African fast bowler has carried that into the third Test in Cape Town as well. He bowled beautifully throughout the day and led the South African pace attack admirably.
Rabada was constantly at the Indian batters and built relentless pressure. He got Mayank Agarwal in his first spell before returning to pick the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane. He bowled a fantastic spell to Virat Kohli as well in the second session and that was a riveting battle. He returned to pick the wicket of the Indian captain in the end and finished with a four-wicket haul.
Rabada had able support from the other bowlers as well and Marco Jansen, in particular, was once again very impressive. The tall left-arm seamer kept things really well in the first session before getting the big wicket of a well-set Cheteshwar Pujara. He came back in the final session and broke a threatening partnership between Kohli and Rishabh Pant. Jansen had Pant caught at gully with some extra bounce on offer before he had Ravichandran Ashwin nicking one to the keeper.