India’s tour of South Africa began with a 72-run loss in the opening Test at Newlands and failure to string big partnerships was one of the main factors behind India’s inability to chase down a modest target of 208. Indian skipper Virat Kohli pointed out that losing wickets in bunches was something that needed to be looked into immediately. “Losing wickets in bunches is something we have to plug in. We were in the game for the three days and it was a wonderful match to be part of. We would have taken that if someone told 208 would be the target,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
Kohli expressed the need to rectify the mistakes that the batsmen did today but praised the bowlers for their exceptional effort particularly in the second innings.
“If we had taken our chances in the first innings, even after them counter-attacking, we could have kept them to 220. We’re not a team which thinks of what-ifs though. We were thinking 250, 275 if they play well. It was a great effort by the bowlers, he added.
Kohli felt India needed a batsman to score a 70 or 80 in the second innings.
“It was a great effort but we needed someone to get a 75 or 80. 20s or 30s were not enough. They were a bowler short (Dale Steyn) but they pitched the balls in the right areas and bowled their hearts out. We need to rectify our mistakes also.”
Kohli was not too disheartened with the defeat and said that the team was still feeling good about with their performance in the Newlands Test.
“This game is all about partnerships, and crucial runs, and they did better. The bowlers learnt pretty quickly and did well in the second innings. We are still feeling good about how we went about this Test match.
“The mindset really matters when you travel away from home. You need to be positive in defence and leaving, and cash in on scoring,” the straight-talking skipper said.
In India’s first innings, Pandya’s 93-run knock was the difference between an embarrassingly low score and the competitive total that India managed to put on board, and the Indian skipper was all praise for the Baroda all-rounder.
“We believe in Pandya. He always wants to do well, even away from home. He showed a lot of character and the knock was brilliant.”
Chasing 208 for a victory, India’s famed batting line-up had no answers to South African fast bowlers and were bundled out for 135 in their second innings.
Seamer Vernon Philander took career-best figures as rampant South Africa claimed a 72-run victory over India in a gripping match to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
On a lively wicket, Philander was the chief destroyer recording figures of 6-42 for his first five-wicket haul in Tests since 2013.
India had looked to seize control of the Test when they bowled South Africa out for 130 in the morning session, but found the home attack on the seamer-friendly wicket too much of a challenge.
After day three had been a washout, 18 wickets fell in 64 overs on Monday, all going to seamers.
South Africa resumed on 65 for two, but were only able to double their score before they lost their last eight wickets.
Mohammed Shami (3-28) and debutant Jasprit Bumrah (3-39) were the pick of the Indian bowlers and there were two wickets for Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-33).
Only an attacking 35 from De Villiers stemmed the tide to a degree before he was the last man out.
South Africa, without injured seamer Dale Steyn who will miss the rest of the series with a heel problem, weathered a first-wicket stand of 30 for India in reply, before the wickets began to fall at regular intervals.
Shikhar Dhawan (16) sparred a rising deliver from Morne Morkel (2-39) to gully.
Philander picked up his first wicket as Murali Vijay (13) edged to third slip.
Cheteshwar Pujara (four) became Morkel’s second victim with the score on 39, before Indian captain Virat Kohli (28) took the attack to the South Africans.
He was undone playing across a straight delivery from Philander.
Rohit Sharma (10) was bowled off the inside edge by Philander before the tourists’ first-innings hero Hardik Pandya edged Kagiso Rabada to De Villiers in the slips.
Rabada claimed the wicket of Wriddhiman Saha (eight) with the last ball before tea.
Philander then took three wickets in four balls to seal victory after a seventh-wicket stand of 49 between top-scorer Ravichandran Ashwin (37) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (13 not out) had briefly sent jitters through the Newlands crowd.
South Africa are hosting India in a three-Test series this month, with matches to come in Pretoria, starting on Saturday, and Johannesburg.