A rejuvenated bowling effort helped South Africa take the honours of the opening day of the Johannesburg Test on Monday. They bowled India out for mere 202 after stand-in captain K.L. Rahul won the toss and opted to bat. Led by the performance of young Marco Jansen (4-31), South Africa rattled the Virat Kohli-less Indian batting line-up on a bouncy Wanderers pitch to lay the foundation of a comeback in the series.
Mohammed Shami then got Aiden Markram (7) early, but Dean Elgar (11*) and Keegan Petersen (14*) managed to negotiate a chancy last hour without further hiccups as the South Africans finished Day 1 on 35/1, still trailing India by 167 runs.
Petersen was dropped by Rishabh Pant off Jasprit Bumrah, and it will be interesting to see how costly that drop is going to prove. India had another setback when Mohammed Siraj pulled his right hamstring towards the closing stages and had to leave the field. If he does not return, it will be a huge blow to India's chances.
South Africa, however, need to pull up their socks as well. At Centurion, on a similar pitch, they had failed to cross 200 in both innings. Hence, on Day 2, Elgar & co. will have to lift their game significantly to take advantage of Monday's good work.
There is a chance of thunderstorm towards the afternoon on Day 2, something the Indian bowlers should not mind. A few spells of rain can spice up the surface like it did at Centurion. Overall, it is expected to be a day of periods of cloud and sunshine – in other words, a pleasant condition for the players to play Test match cricket.
- Bank on Shami and Bumrah to make early in road right from the start of the day's play.
- Hopefully learning from their conservative batting approach in the first match, the South African batters may look to play their shots and get rid of the deficit if wickets fall at a regular interval.
- If Siraj fails to regain his fitness, Rahul will have to use R. Ashwin to provide relief to his fast bowlers. However, there many not be much assistance from the surface for Ashwin.