Ashwin basks after helping India contain S. Africa on Day 1

Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah

The tail-ender deflects the ball towards short fine for a single off the second legal delivery. But he was denied a century in Centurion by Ravichandran Ashwin who celebrated his second wicket of the day when Markram was caught behind on 94.

It was far from the high-octane Test cricket that was seen in Cape Town last week, but it was every bit as engaging. He has played 12 Tests here, compared to 17 at Newlands, his most visited venue, and two more than Kingsmead and Wanderers, the only other places where he has played at least 10 Tests.

But an unflustered Markram joined hands with Amla and the pair continued to control the Indian bowlers.

There was some consolation when Indian captain Virat Kohli ran across to congratulate South Africa s rising star. After going wicketless in the morning session, and with Amla being dropped twice, India need such moments to spike their day at SuperSport Park. Understandable though, Virat Kohli and the head coach, Ravi Shastri asserted that this is the best squad ever visited South Africa and were pretty confident of turning the tables. Quinton de Kock's wafting at an Ashwin delivery with no footwork, and Vernon Philander's run-out gave India an even share of the spoils on the first day. Veteran Steyn injured his left heel midway through the match and has been sidelined for four to six weeks. Bhuvneshwar had Keshav Maharaj tickling a catch to Saha and Morne Morkel undone by a sharp bouncer, also pouched by Saha for his tenth dismissal. This pitch will again test us to play a good game of test cricket and we are looking forward to it. The Indian spinner had also accounted for Elgar (31).

For his dismissal‚ Markram's review was unsuccesful as Ultraedge showed that the ball came off his bat and the decision remained that of the umpire‚ who originally had waved his finger for out.

"If every Test match finishes inside three days and we're on the right side of the result, then I'm okay with that", Proteas coach Ottis Gibson offered after the Cape Town Test.

He said that it was hard work for the bowlers because the pitch didn't have anything for the pacers. Instead they must harness the art of controlling the pace quartet. K.L Rahul, who came in for Shikhar Dhawan, is expected to open the batting with M Vijay. However, they failed to grasp the situation later in the day.

South Africa responded by winning the toss and putting up 50-plus partnerships for the first three wickets.

Hardik Pandya (0-15) too didn't trouble the batsmen after coming on to bowl in the 13th over. The opener Aiden Markram was a thorn in their side from the time South Africa opted to bat, as he and Dean Elgar played out the first hour and then cashed in on a period of wayward bowling to take the score to 78/1 at lunch.

The credits should be given to R Ashwin for whatever good India did on Day 1 of the second Test of the three-match series.

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