South Africa’s fast bowlers blared out their credentials for much of the first morning but with frustratingly indifferent rewards as India were only mildly uncomfortable as they reached lunch on 75/2 on the first day of the third Test at Newlands on Tuesday.
Cheteshwar Pujara continued the return to form he showed in the second Test last week at the Wanderers, reaching the break on a solid 26 not out. Captain Virat Kohli was subdued in scoring 15 not out.
India had won the toss and elected to bat under gloomy skies in Cape Town, with the floodlights on from the outset.
Kagiso Rabada, constantly probing the outside edge, and Duanne Olivier, bowling the fuller length required at Newlands but also getting some useful bounce, were excellent with the new ball. But it took 45 minutes before they gained any reward, opener Lokesh Rahul and Mayank Agarwal putting on 31 for the first wicket.
Olivier made the breakthrough in the 12th over as Rahul was unable to control a delivery that bounced steeply and just moved away a touch, India’s stand-in captain in the second Test being caught behind for 12.
In the next over, the unenthusiastic footwork of Agarwal (15) saw him edge a lovely away-swinger from Rabada straight to second slip.
Change bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen were not quite as threatening nor accurate as the new-ball pair and Pujara and Kohili were able to add 42 for the third wicket before lunch.
South Africa have chosen the same XI that managed to get a series-levelling win at the Wanderers, while India will be pleased to get their captain, Kohli, back after he missed the second Test with a back injury.
He comes in for Hanuma Vihari, while fast bowler Umesh Yadav has come in for the injured Mohammed Siraj.