Bowlers rule the roost as wickets fall

None of the batsmen who faced Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first hour at Newlands yesteday managed to lay much bat on ball.

But, after tea, Kagiso Rabada, batting at number nine, hit him high over his head for six.

Faf du Plessis cuts the ball to the third man boundary during his innings of 62 on the opening day of the first Test Picture: GALLO IMAGES

It was that sort of day for India, who competed early but faded as the first day of the Test series wore on to let South Africa back into the game.

The accurate and consistently threatening Kumar was easily the most penetrative of India’s bowlers on the first day of the Test series, and but for a dropped catch would have claimed his sixth five-wicket haul. Instead he took 4/87.

But, as good as Kumar was, and as well as he was supported, South Africa were better.

They recovered from a horror start, shambling to 12/3 inside five overs, to total 286. The cavalry came in the shape of a century stand between AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis, and Morné Morkel, last out for two, was alone among the home side’s last eight in not making some runs. But by stumps India were 28/3, 258 behind.

One of India’s wickets belonged to Dale Steyn, who because of dire shoulder and muscle injuries bowled in a Test for the first time since November 2016.

Du Plessis won the toss and chose to bat but his top order of Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla came matching back in short order. That brought De Villiers and Du Plessis together at the crease, and they shared a partnership of 114 before being removed three overs apart.

De Villiers batted aggressively for his 65, which came off 84 balls and included 11 fours. Du Plessis, faced 104 deliveries for his 62 and hit 12 fours. De Villiers lost his wicket to debutant seamer Jasprit Bumrah t when he drove at an inswinger and angled it onto his stumps.

South Africa were dismissed with 11 overs left in the day’s play, and in the second of them Steyn ran in to bowl to joyous cheers.

With his 14th delivery he induced a leading edge from Shikhar Dhawan and claimed the skied catch himself. Cheers turned to roars, and Steyn’s scowl to a broad smile.

Vernon Philander had a hard-driving Murali Vijay caught in the gully and Morkel had Kohli taken behind with the first ball of his second spell.

Morkel didn’t concede a run in his two overs and bowled beautifully, but the moment was Steyn’s. It was, no doubt, good to be back.