India vs South Africa HIGHLIGHTS, 1st Test Day 1: Rahul hundred, Rahane power IND to 272/3

India vs South Africa 2021-22 HIGHLIGHTS, 1st Test Get the cricket score updates between IND vs SA from the SuperSport Park in Centurion.

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KL Rahul is the second Indian opener to hit a Test hundred in South Africa.   -  AFP

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's coverage of Day 1 of the first Test between India and South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion.


A stellar Boxing Day start for India with its newly appointed vice-captain KL Rahul dominating proceedings with a fluent century. South Africa will rue its shoddy, passive start in the first hour as Rabada and Ngidi barely tested the openers. While Ngidi nearly put the Proteas back in the hunt with the wickets of Mayank and Pujara off successive deliveries, skipper Kohli joined Rahul to douse the looming threat. Kohli looked set for a half-century and perhaps 'no. 71'  before another jarring shot out of the blue plotted his downfall. In came an under-fire Rahane who completely flipped the billing from ball one. Rahane waltzed to a cracking start as he laced boundaries on either side of the wicket while KL sauntered to his seventh Test ton.

IND 272/3 in 90 overs:  STUMPS | KL Rahul sees off Maharaj's over and there's a wrap for a day dominated by India.

IND 272/3 in 89 overs: Rahane's solid as Ngidi attempts to knock the ball into the stumps. An over left in the day as Rahane plays out a maiden against Ngidi.

IND 272/3 in 88 overs: Maharaj wafts the ball into the stumps, forcing the batters to keep a watchful eye for an extra second as it approaches the stumps. Maharaj fends one short and wide and Rahul's gentle push races past point for FOUR.

Maharaj into the attack

IND 266/3 in 87 overs: Mulder fiddles with his line and the batters stay put before treading in singles.

IND 264/3 in 86 overs: Rabada fires one in straight and Rahane swivels and crashes the ball to the mid-wicket boundary in a flash for FOUR! An absolute delight to watch as he navigates the ball with ease from the probing height along the ground to the fence.

IND 258/3 in 85 overs: Ngidi keeps the ball short and Rahane does well to drop his bat to keep the ball off the edge.

IND 257/3 in 84 overs: Rahul escapes! Rabada gets a sharp nip-backer to sit up to the outside-edge of Rahul's blade. Bavuma dives full length to his left at gully but fails to pouch the ball by hair's breadth.  The ball trickles down to the third for FOUR.

IND 253/3 in 83 overs: Ngidi keeps Rahane on his toes as he zips the ball into the blade. Rahane gets a thick inside-edge that falls to short mid-wicket. Maiden for Ngidi.

Ngidi replaces Jansen

IND 253/3 in 82 overs: Rabada pumps the ball into the stumps on return. KL gets a sharp inside-edge that nearly clips the stumps before Rahane flicks one down to square leg.

Rabada is back

IND 251/3 in 81 overs: Rahane continues his feast off the seamers. Jansen continues waver on length and ends up with a full delivery outside the off-stump. Rahane eases into the drive and crunches it through the square for a brilliant boundary. He's racked up seven of them in his rather brief stay at the crease.

Jansen with the new ball.

IND 245/3 in 80 overs: Maharaj with another quick over. Just the single from it. The new ball is due and South Africa takes it rightaway.

IND 244/3 in 79 overs: Jansen angles one across the length and beats Rahul's blade. Rahul follows up with a slice and gets a top-edge that flies past the slips for FOUR.

IND 238/3 in 78 overs: Hundred for KL Rahul! Just the second Indian opener to notch up the three-figures in South Africa after Wasim Jaffer. Maharaj keeps it tight on the stumps throughout the over while lofting the ball in slowly. KL bid his time before slashing gently on a loose delivery outside the off-stump through point for FOUR to bring up a well-compiled ton. His tremendous touch on return to the side has earned him his second Test ton outside India in as many series.

Most Test 100s by an Indian opener outside Asia
15 Sunil Gavaskar (81 innings)
5 KL Rahul (34 innings)
4 Virender Sehwag (59 innings)


IND 233/3 in 77 overs:
Rahane continues his blazing touch! Mulder errs in length by a fraction and Rahane flicks it nonchalantly to the mid-wicket fence for another FOUR.

IND 228/3 in 76 overs: Rahul nudges one to long-on and moves to 98. Rahane faces a string of loopy deliveries from Maharaj but is content with a solid defence.

IND 227/3 in 75 overs: Mulder floats one in on good length. Rahane leaves the tempter on its line before stifling the off-side fielders with a beautiful drive through extra cover for FOUR.

IND 222/3 in 74 overs: Short and wide outside the off-stump and Rahane slashes it past point for FOUR. He looks in good touch and would surely want to cash in during this innings. Drinks are on the field as we move into the last hour.

IND 217/3 in 73 overs: Mulder bumps the ball short and Rahane neatly tucks it behind square for a couple of singles.

IND 214/3 in 72 overs: Jansen gets the ball into jag back sharply but Rahane stays well in control to punch it through mid-wicket for FOUR.

IND 209/3 in 71 overs: Positive movement from Rahane. Ngidi dishes a fuller delivery well outside the off-stump. Rahane eases into the ball and glides it elegantly through point for FOUR.

IND 204/3 in 70 overs: Jansen gets another ball to slide sharply past the outside-edge. Rahane moves forward and aims to flick the ball through mid-wicket as the ball spurts away off the pitch, nearly kissing the outside-edge. Rahane continues to murmur to 'watch the ball' to himself.

IND 203/3 in 69 overs: Ngidi to Kohli. OUT! EDGED AND TAKEN!! The pressure of a couple of maiden overs gets the better of him. Kohli leans out to a ball well outside the off-stump and gets a nick straight to Mulder. Rahane in at 5. The ball tails in over the off-stump and Rahane leans forward to let it on its way. Ngidi overpitches and Rahane drills it down the ground for FOUR.  Virat Kohli c Mulder b Ngidi 35 (94b 4x4)

IND 199/2 in 68 overs: Jansen returns with a fine line outside the off-stump from around the wicket. KL leaves a couple of deliveries in its line before smashing one straight to the cover fielder.

IND 199/2 in 67 overs: Ngidi keeps the ball on good length and Kohli continues to nudge about the circle. Maiden on return for Ngidi.

IND 199/2 in 66 overs: Majestic from KL! Maharaj finally errs on length and Rahul pounces in on the minimal room he's received. He flicks the slider past mid-on for FOUR and dances down to smoke a tossed up delivery over long-on for SIX and marches into the 90s in style.

IND 187/2 in 65 overs: Rabada continues to run in with seething pace, probably a tad too much as he oversteps twice again.  Rahul and Kohli have negated the pace twice, meeting the ball with soft hands as it thuds into the blade.

IND 183/2 in 64 overs: Kohli survives. Maharaj gets some sharp drift into Kohli who gets an inside-edge while prodding forward to defend. The ball flies off the edge, just past Elgar's reach at first slip.

IND 182/2 in 63 overs: Intense battle between KL and Rabada. Rabada oversteps twice but sends in absolute fireballs to KL. Rahul employs impeccable technique once again as he bolts out of a jaffa from Rabada off the last minute. Rahul follows up with a scrumptious cover drive to find the boundary and keep the runs flowing in the session.

IND 176/2 in 62 overs: Maharaj continues to cramp the batters in the crease. Just the couple of runs in the over.

IND 174/2 in 61 overs: Fiery stuff from Rabada! He begins with a nasty bumper to KL who awkwardly flicks it behind short fine to get off strike. Rabada gets the ball to shape away from Kohli who crunches it through point for FOUR.

IND 166/2 in 60 overs: Kohli's in the zone.  Maharaj slides one in and Kohli gracefully flicks it past mid-wicket for FOUR. 

IND 160/2 in 59 overs: Rabada begins with a sharp line onto the stumps. KL meets the ball well outside the crease to keep it off its zippy track.

Rabada from the other end

IND 158/2 in 58 overs:  Maharaj begins with a shorter length delivery to KL who nudges it long-off for a single. Kohli prods forward to keep the loopy deliveries off his pads.

Back for the final session on Day 1. KL and Kohli are back at the middle.  Maharaj to continue.

- TEA -

India go into the final break with 157 on the board. Good session for the hosts, who picked up two wickets - both by Lungi Ngidi. Mayank was out lbw for 60 and Pujara bagged a golden duck next ball. Kohli and Rahul have steadied the innings since. Rahul is unbeaten on 68, Kohli on 19. Back with the final session shortly.

Final over before tea. KL Rahul flicks it away for four. Mulder getting seam movement but Rahul negates it by moving across the stumps. Five off the over.

IND 152/2 in 56 overs: Maharaj. Kohli guides the first ball to third-man for three. That also brings up the team's 150. Rahul gets a singel off the next ball. Four dots to finish.

IND 148/2 in 55 overs: Mulder continues. Rahul on strike. Big shout for lbw against Rahul - looked close to the naked eye but Elgar decides against the review after much deliberation. Probably bouncing over the stumps. The earlier ball did not carry to Markram at second slip. Probing over from Mulder.

IND 148/2 in 54 overs: Maharaj and Mulder bowling in tandem.  No sight of KG - you'd expect him to take a crack at Kohli. Meanwhile, just a single off Maharaj's over.

IND 147/2 in 53 overs: Mulder continues. Rahul gets a top edge and the ball falls just short of a diving Jansen at long leg. Kohli gets a couple off the next ball. Dot to finish.

IND 144/2 in 52 overs: Maharaj chipping in with some economical overs. This one's a maiden. Both batters will be wary of taking undue risks with tea around the corner.

IND 144/2 in 51 overs: Mulder. Rahul gets a single off the second ball. Single to Kohli off the last ball. Tidy over - just two from it.

IND 142/2 in 50 overs: Maharaj. Just two off the over. Lovely weather in Centurion, bright, blue skies. Kohli and Rahul look unperturbed for now.

IND 140/2 in 49 overs: Mulder continues. Kohli on strike. Four dots later, Kohli gets a single. A dot to finish the over.

IND 139/2 in 48 overs: Maharaj continues. Bowls full outside off and Rahul clobbers a crunching drive through cover. Very good shot. 5 from the over.

IND 134/2 in 47 overs: Here's Mulder. Starts his new spell with a maiden. Stifled appeal for lbw in that over but Rahul got a big inside edge.

IND 134/2 in 46 overs: Keshav Maharaj into the attack. Two dots later, Rahul gets off strike with a single. Kohli gets into the act again, a straight ball from Maharaj and Kohli punches it wide of mid-on for four. Five from the over.

IND 129/2 in 45 overs: Ngidi. That was only the second time that Pujara has been out for a golden duck. The first was at Centurion in 2018. Three singles off that over.

IND 126/2 in 44 overs: Here's Jansen. Kohli;s first scoring shot is a cover drive for four. He wasn't in control for the shot, so that should keep the SA fielders interested.

IND 122/2 in 43 overs: Ngidi continues. He will have his tail up. Rahul has been stuck on 47 for a while. Four dots later, Rahul unfurls a glorious cover drive to bring up his fifty off 127 balls. Dot to finish.

IND 118/2 in 42 overs: Jansen into the attack. Kohli plays out six dots. South Africa quicks have attacked the stumps a lot more in the second session and have reaped the benefits.

IND 118/2 in 41 overs: Four more. Agarwal gets a gift from Ngidi, who bowls a short ball on the hip and Agarwal tucks it away for four. Loud shout for lbw against Agarwal - not given. SA review. It's three reds and Agarwal has to go! Agarwal shaking his head as he walks back. Good length ball sliding in from middle stump line and Mayank is hit on the knee roll in front of leg stump.  Next ball, Pujara is caught!  What a turnaround. Short leg and midwicket for Pujara and he falls for the trap. He lunged forward to defend and got a thick inside edge onto the pad. Keegan takes an easy catch. Kohli to face the hat-trick ball. Kohli survives. He is batting outside his crease. Gets off the mark with a single. Dot to finish.

IND 113/0 in 40 overs: Mulder. Goes full and Rahul caresses a drive through sweeper cover for four. Beautiful shot. Four off the over.

IND 109/0 in 39 overs: Meanwhile, Rahul and Agarwal have become only the third Indian Test opening pair to have a hundred stand in South Africa. Ngidi is back into the attack. Starts his new spell with a maiden.

IND 109/0 in 38 overs: Mulder into the attack with two slips and a gully. Rahul on strike. Four dots later, Rahul punches one off the backfoot past sweeper cover for four. Four from it.

IND 105/0 in 37 overs: Rabada to Agarwal - mixing up his lengths in this over - good length and short. Agarwal watchful in defence. Six dots.

IND 105/0 in 36 overs: Jansen.  Rahul fends at a short ball and the outside edge flies between the slips and gully for four. Soon after, Jansen invites Rahul to drive but is beaten on the outside edge. Dot to finish. Four from the over.

IND 101/0 in 35 overs: Rabada continues to ask questions in this session- probing lines and lengths. Meanwhile Rahul and Agarwal bring up the 100 stand. Top start to the Test match and the series for the visitors. Rabada managed to induce a thick edge off Rahul's bat but he has overstepped. Ends with a dot.

IND 98/0 in 34 overs: The pitch has been rather flat, but Jansen has lacked control. Jansen continues - he has bowled a few good balls but those have few and far between. That's better. A maiden.

IND 98/0 in 33 overs: Rabada starts with a bouncer down leg side but it's a no-ball. Good over from Kagiso - just one off it. The Indian openers have left well.

IND 97/0 in 32 overs: Here's Jansen. Agarwal picks a single off the third ball. Jansen errs in line, strays on Rahul's pads and the right-hander flicks it away for four. Poor ball after four good deliveries.

IND 92/0 in 31 overs: Rabada continues. A couple of quick singles for Rahul and Agarwal. Rabada sticking to good length and getting good movement away from the right-hander.

IND 90/0 in 30 overs: Agarwal gets to his fifty with a boundary off Jansen - great knock.  Just four from the over.

IND 86/0 in 29 overs: Rabada to kickstart proceedings after the break. Mayank gets a couple off the second ball. Just a single more to Mayank - three off the over.

- 2ND SESSION -

IND 83/0 in 28 overs: India sweeps the first session, fair and square. Maharaj loops in on the full and Mayank lunges forward with a neat block to move into LUNCH.

Maharaj into the attack - Possibly the last over before lunch.

IND 82/0 in 27 overs: A rash delivery from Rabada angling down leg and it races past a flying de Kock for FOUR byes. The Proteas have been deflated completely in the first hour. Time for some spin?

IND 78/0 in 26 overs: Ngidi pushes another onto the pads and KL flicks it through mid-wicket for anothe FOUR. India in total control at the moment.

IND 71/0 in 25 overs: Rabada pumps the ball into the deck and Mayank does well to stay in line behind it to defend. India will aim to take it slow in the next 10 minutes or so as lunch is around the corner.

Rabada replaces Mulder

IND 70/0 in 24 overs: Ngidi continues to vary his lengths but Rahul maintains his sturdy defence.

IND 69/0 in 23 overs: Mulder overpitches and Mayank slams it through extra cover for a delectable FOUR. South Africa's inconsistency with the ball has made it easier for the Indian openers to regroup and build on every now and then.

IND 65/0 in 22 overs: Mayank's on thin ice all of a sudden. Ngidi gets the ball to tail in and Mayank opts for a late cut while cramping for room. He gets an inside-edge and the ball nearly pops onto the stumps.

Ngidi returns

IND 60/0 in 21 overs: A couple of lucky strands for Mayank as Mulder gets the ball to jag back onto the stumps. Mayank nearly chops one onto the stumps and South Africa could possibly smell a faint chance to sneak in right now.

IND 58/0 in 20 overs: A corker from Jansen! Rahul is split across the line as the ball hits the good length and cuts past the outside-edge sharply. KL had to play at it as the ball was seemingly rolling in before taking another trajectory altogether.

IND 56/0 in 19 overs: Mulder slides the ball across and KL gently tucks it down leg for FOUR.

IND 52/0 in 18 overs: Mayank flicks it past mid-wicket for FOUR as Jansen errs on length once again. Jansen fends short and this time Mayank pushes him through cover for another boundary. FIFTY up for India. Jansen slides one in and finds the edge and it's dropped by de Kock! A cracking delivery from Jansen to find the outside-edge, but de Kock is a second late to react to the catch. He puts out a full-length leap to his right as the ball slips past the gloves behind Elgar at first slip. Frustrating start here for the Proteas.

IND 44/0 in 17 overs: Mulder keeps it tight on the stumps and Rahul continues to present a solid defence. Elgar's men have begun the day with restricted aggression.

IND 44/0 in 16 overs: Jansen slides one in quickly and Mayank escapes with a leading-edge that saves his pads from being crashed in with a lbw shout. He's gently shaping up into his role as the spell grows on.

IND 42/0 in 15 overs: Maiden for Mulder. KL continues to keep his anchor down and shows impeccable technique in leaving the balls through the fourth-stump channel.

IND 42/0 in 14 overs: Jansen bumps one in and it sets off to nearly sail over de Kock who makes a fine pouch. Maiden for the left-armer and the players head to drinks after the first hour.

IND 42/0 in 13 overs: Crunched from KL! Mulder fends one short and wide, and Rahul slams it past point for a scrumptious FOUR! The openers have set a solid foundation here for India.

Mulder replaces Rabada

IND 37/0 in 12 overs: Jansen slowly settling into his rhythm. He takes one away from Mayank before surprising the batter with a nippy delivery that moves in sharply. Mayank manages to fend it down to fine leg to get off strike.

IND 35/0 in 11 overs: Rabada continues to run in with steam. A gentle outswinger on the full and Mayank tucks it past point for two runs.

IND 32/0 in 10 overs: Not an auspicious start to Test cricket for Jansen.  A freebie outside the off-stump from over the wicket and Mayank punches the ball on the full through cover for FOUR.  Jansen strays to the pads and this time Mayank strokes it easily through mid-wicket for FOUR. Another boundary for Mayank! Jansen errs in line once again and Agarwal crunches it through mid-wicket once again.

Jansen replaces Ngidi

IND 20/0 in 9 overs: Class from KL! Rabada zips the ball in on the fuller length and KL drills it past the bowler for FOUR.

IND 16/0 in 8 overs: Ngidi's wavering lengths offers Rahul a loose delivery onto his pads. He flicks it past mid-wicket and finds three runs. The openers are deftly loosening up a bit.

IND 11/0 in 7 overs: A couple of singles in the over. Rabada continues to hit the channel outside off and Mayank presents a neat leave to see off the threat.

IND 9/0 in 6 overs: KL continues to present a solid, compact defence. Pretty agile to drop his hands against the short stuff. He's also kept a sharp eye over his off-stump.

IND 8/0 in 5 overs: Rabada peppers KL with some nasty bouncers and KL evades a quick one climbing onto his chest. Rabada goes up in appeal while umpire Erasmus shrugs off the appeal. Elgar opts for a review. Well..a pretty timid call from the Proteas as the ball seems nowhere in the radar of KL's blade. South Africa loses the review. Rabada quickly follows up the bouncer with a quicker delivery on length, forcing Rahul to lose his balance while pushing forward.

IND 8/0 in 4 overs: Ngidi pushes wide and Mayank slashes him for FOUR through point. He's taking his chances early on here while KL has opted to stay put. Ngidi slides one in and Mayank tucks it through mid-on for two runs.

IND 2/0 in 3 overs: Rabada continues to maintain a fine line of attack outside the off-stump. Maiden over as KL gently guards his stumps.

IND 2/0 in 2 overs: Ngidi begins with a gentle loosener outside off and Mayank offers a study push past mid-off to collect two runs. Ngidi quickly corrects his line and pushes on the fuller length to force Mayank on the front-foot. An excellent leave there from Mayank as he pulls out of a drive in the last moment. Negligible movement for both bowlers at the start.

Lungi Ngidi from the opposite end

IND 0/0 in 1 over: Fine start for Rabada. He keeps the ball on a fuller length up-front in the channel outside KL's off-stump. No imminent movement off the pitch and KL gently nudges the ball to start. Rabada finishes with a beauty that whiffs past Rahul's outside-edge. Rahul keeps the bat pretty close to his body and escapes from a faint nick on the ball.

In walk the Indian openers, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal.  Kagiso Rabada takes the new ball for South Africa. Here we go!

1:23pm IST: The players line-up for the national anthems.

The Proteas cricket team and South Africa as a nation, mourn world renowned statesman, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who passed away this morning.

The teams had a moment of silence ahead of the start of the first Betway Test match against India. The Proteas are wearing black armbands in honour of Mr Tutu.


Brave calls from Virat and team India on Boxing Day. The conditions seem to be overcast at the moment and with a green top on offer, India has opted to bat first. Kohli puts emphasis on the surface gaining pace over time and India would hope to have a really good phase with the bat first-up. Rahane gets a lifeline - certainly on the brink and desperate for a match-winning knock here. Siraj has certainly stepped up the pecking order as he starts the series ahead of the veteran Ishant. Meanwhile, SA has backed a pace attack comprising Rabada and Ngidi alongside left-arm debutant, Marco Jansen.

India XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj

South Africa XI: Dean Elgar(c), Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock(w), Wiaan Mulder, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngid

Toss: India wins toss, opts to bat

Virat Kohli: We will bat first. Runs on the board playing away home has been our strength. The pitch tends to quicken up here on Day 2-3. Our success away from home started from the series we played here last time. Very challenging place to play. South African unit always strong and they know the conditions. The prep has been wonderful. Quite lucky to get the centre-wicket practice. Siraj, Shami, Bumrah, Ashwin and Thakur is the all-rounder.

Dean Elgar: Nice and relaxed and looking forward to what is going to be a brilliant Test series. We had a good week's camp in Johannesburg. We are prepared as best as we could. Debutant in Marco Jansen. Tall left-arm bowler. Mulder as all-rounder. Kesh is our spinner. KG, Lungi and Marco are the pacers

TOSS TIME!

Stats Preview

  • Pant needs 3 dismissals to become fastest Indian to 100 wicketkeeper dismissals in Tests.
  • Mohammad Shami needs 5 wickets to complete 200 Test wickets.
  • Virat Kohli needs 2 catches to complete 100 Test catches. Ajinkya Rahane is 3 away from the milestone.
  • Duanne Olivier needs 2 wickets to become third fastest South African to 50 Test wickets
  • Ishant Sharma needs one wicket to surpass Zaheer Khan's tally of Test wickets.
  • Ravichandran Ashwin needs 7 wickets to surpass Kapil Dev's tally to become India's second-highest Test wicket-taker.


12:50pm IST:
Final preps before the Toss.

 

12:30pm IST: Positive signs from the venue at the moment. It's a bright, sunny morning in Centurion even as the forecast looks pretty gloomy for the second-half.

12:15pm IST: Weather forecast - Centurion, Gauteng

Time  (IST)10am (1:30pm)12pm (3:30pm)3pm (6:30pm)4pm (7:30pm)5pm (8:30pm)
Precipitation % 8%11%53%74%45%


According to weather.com, thunderstorms and precipitation levels are likely to pick post noon from 2pm at the venue. We might be in for a delayed start, folks.

Match preview

We are in Ground Zero. At the Gauteng province, where Omicron, the latest variant of ‘concern’ in Covid-19, first surfaced. The masks are out, so are the sanitizers.

The mood is sombre and the Christmas celebrations have been muted. We live in difficult times. It is here, in the Gauteng district, that India will begin its quest for conquering the Final Frontier - triumphing in a Test series in South Africa.

India has series victories in all other major Test playing nations.  

The upcoming three-Test series - the first match gets underway at Centurion on Sunday - is significant. India has a gilt-edged opportunity to make history at a time when the South African team is not at its strongest.

READ: IND vs SA, 1st Test: India's Boxing Day Test record

And, when its Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, and coach Mark Boucher are under investigation for racism in a country where the subject is so sensitive. The Boxing Day Test will mark legend Rahul Dravid’s first overseas Test in his new role as coach.

It has been raining in these parts and showers have been in forecast on days 1, 2 and 5 of the Test. A start-stop-start Test could upset the rhythm of both batters and the bowlers.

The Indian think tank could play five bowlers, four pacemen and R. Ashwin in the eleven with the explosive Rishabh Pant at No. 6. There should be seam movement and bounce on a surface with a grass cover at the SuperSport Park.        

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, and Shardul Thakur could complete the Indian pace pack. Shardul will also add depth to the Indian batting along with Ashwin.

As the match progresses, there should be assistance for Ashwin; always potent against the southpaws.

READ: Rahane in 'good space', says Dravid

The Kookaburra ball does a lot early on and moves much less later - there is hardly any reverse swing - and openers K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal and No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara will have to prevent inroads with the new ball.

There will be pressure and scrutiny on skipper Virat Kohli. He is short of runs by his own standards, and his recent statements would not have gone well with the Board. But then, Kohli is passionate about Test cricket and there is no doubting the quality of his batsmanship.

India is likely to give the experienced Ajinkya Rahane - his horizontal bat shots could be effective on these wickets - another opportunity.  

South Africa last played Test cricket six months ago. The side has lost five of its last eight home Tests but has won 21 out of the 26 Tests at Centurion. However, now there is no AB de Villiers or Hashim Amla or Faf du Plessis to bail the side out of trouble.

Influential wicket-keeper-batter Quinton de Kock, soon to become a father, is available for only the first Test and the side’s quickest bowler, Anrich Nortje, has been ruled out of the series because of fitness concerns.

Despite the presence of the feisty skipper Dean Elgar, the talented Aiden Markram, and the gifted de Kock, there are holes in the South African batting.

But then, even without Nortje, South Africa has a vibrant pace attack. Kagiso Rabada can be quick and dangerous, Lungi Ngidi has troubled the Indian batsmen in the past and Duanne Olivier, a whippy bowler, can be deceptively fast.

Can India breach fortress Centurion?

- S. Dinakar

RELATED


Probable XI

IND XI: KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane/Hanuma Vihari/Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma/Mohd. Siraj

SA XI: Dean Elgar (capt), Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, Rassie van der Dussen, Temba Bavuma, Quinton de Kock, Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi.

IND vs SA DREAM11 FANTASY TEAM

Wicketkeeper: Quinton de Kock

Batters – Virat Kohli (c), Cheteshwar Pujara, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen

All-rounders – Ravichandran Ashwin, Hanuma Vihari

Bowlers – Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada (vc), Duanne Olivier,Shardul Thakur

Team Composition: IND 6:5 SA Credits left: 0.5


Squads

India squad: Virat Kohli (Captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant (wk), Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Jayant Yadav, Ishant Sharma, Mohd. Shami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Md. Siraj.

Standby Players: Navdeep Saini, Saurabh Kumar, Deepak Chahar, Arzan Nagwaswalla.

South Africa squad: Dean Elgar (Captain), Temba Bavuma (vc), Quinton de Kock (wk), Kagiso Rabada, Sarel Erwee, Beuran Hendricks, George Linde, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Anrich Nortje, Keegan Petersen , Rassie van der Dussen , Kyle Verreynne , Marco Jansen , Glenton Stuurman , Prenelan Subrayen , Sisanda Magala, Ryan Rickelton, Duanne Olivier


WHERE TO WATCH IND VS SA FIRST TEST LIVE?

The first Test between India and South Africa will be shown LIVE on the Star Sports Network and streamed online on Hotstar from 1.30 pm IST.