India has won their maiden test match at Centurion on 30th December 2021. The gravity of this win could be understood by the fact that the Indian team of previous generations traveling with the likes of Dravid, Ganguly, Sachin, and Laxman was not able to win the test match at Centurion previously. While this South African lineup is nowhere near the one which Dravid’s and Ganguly’s faced, South Africa is still a challenging place as the likes of Australia and New Zealand suffer here too.
On a pitch where three innings folded inside 200, the opening partnership in the first innings of 117 runs was crucial in giving India a handsome lead after South Africa was bowled out of 174 runs in their first innings. Speaking on his Youtube Chanel, Pakistani former cricketer, Salman Butt termed the opening partnership as the difference between the two teams.
Was India at advantage in the first innings?
In nutshell, yes. Three factors worked in India’s favor. Firstly, Virat Kohli was able to win the toss. South Africa would have batted too if Dean Elgar would have won the toss. Secondly, the pitch was slow due to persistent rains from the last few days which made the pitch slow and allowed for easier batting conditions. And the third is the sub-par bowling from South Africans on the first day which allowed India to get away without more than three wickets.
Although, there was rain consumed the second day of the match, the pitch got some life on the third day and the South African bowling was on point too. India collapsed from 278 for three to 327 all out. The Indian bowlers were on point right from the start and never allowed South Africa batters to get comfortable. Seeing the turnaround of the pitch condition from Day 3, it does appear that the match may have been different if South Africa would have batted first or if there was no rain preceding the match.