Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
1 minute read
26 Dec 2021
12:33 pm

Proteas bowlers struggle to find early breakthrough

Ken Borland

Kagiso Rabada was excellent up front with the new ball in the morning session, but there was little pressure created by the other bowlers.

India openers Mayank Agarwal and Lokesh Rahul took advantage of the scattered lines and lengths of an underdone Proteas bowling attack as they cruised to 83 without loss at lunch on the first day of the first Test at SuperSport Park in Centurion on Sunday.

Agarwal had stroked a threatening 46 not out, while Rahul was the more watchful of the two Bangalore-born batsman, taking 21 balls to get off the mark and reaching lunch on a watchful but rock-solid 29 not out.

The South African attack, already deprived of the injured Anrich Nortje, was also without Duanne Olivier, the in-form paceman in domestic cricket. The Central Gauteng Lions star, according to sources close to the team, contracted Covid recently and team management were not satisfied that he had sufficient bowling loads since then in order to make it through a five-day Test.

It meant Lungi Ngidi, who had bowled only seven competitive overs since July, was pressed into service and he was understandably rusty. Left-arm quick Marco Jansen was also brought in for his debut, and was understandably nervous, going for 12 runs in his first over as Agarwal hit him for three boundaries.

Kagiso Rabada was excellent up front with the new ball, but there was little pressure created by the other bowlers.

Once Jansen got into his stride, though, he did have the batsmen guessing whether he was swinging the ball back into the right-handers or taking it across them.

In his fifth over he found the edge of Agarwal’s bat, but wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, leaping high to his right, dropped the batsman on 36. He would have expected to have done better, as would the Proteas team in general on the first morning.