India has taken the first big step towards making cricketing history in South Africa. It won the first test of the series rather convincingly in the end at Centurion Park, by 113 runs. The match, though, progressed and ended in rather expected lines.
K.L Rahul was brilliant to start with a fluent, skillful, and very impressive 123. He always showed great promise and now he is delivering with good consistency. The rest was largely accomplished by the brilliant Indian pace attack which has repeatedly proven itself in overseas test venues and which we now have come to expect. Though every test win is almost always a team effort, in the case of this test, what stood out was K.L Rahul’s first innings and the relentless, fiery, and disciplined Indian pace attack. Bumrah and Shami were brilliant with an able support from Siraj.
As expected, the South African pace attack did trouble the Indian team and caused two mini batting collapses. The recent struggles, which Indian batting has seen, continued but were largely glossed over by a brilliant Rahul and bowling. Pujara stayed at the pitch for some time but struggled. Kohli looked as good as ever, while on the battling pitch but perished too soon after promising much.
A lot of eyes were on Rahane and one must say he did not discredit himself by his performance. He looked in good touch and made a decent and useful contribution with 48 in the first innings. In the second innings too, he looked good with a couple of brilliant off drives, before he fell down to the vagaries of the uneven cricket pitch. Pant tried to dominate in the second innings with some initial success but then he fell being too adventurous. Mayank Aggarwal, did give a good account of himself with a well-made 60 in the first innings. The Indian middle-order must perform to its potential in the remaining two test matches as then the South African resistance is likely to intensify.
Ashwin got a game here but he could not do much other than claiming the last two wickets. The pitch was fast with some inconsistent bounce. This meant that it was difficult to settle for any batsman with the possibility of getting one unplayable delivery always lurking around. That made pacers of both sides much more potent. When the Indian pace attack broke down the South African batting line-up on the fifth day, the Indian team was well on its way to conquering new territory.