Finally, after losing the first ODI in Mumbai, India proved that they are the better team and do not only win against the weaker teams.
The skies looked murky, and South Africa’s chances stood dampened at the end of a day entirely inclined to the hosts.
South Africa, led by Faf Du Plessis, had equivalent to nothing positive to take away at the end of the first day. If a little, the visitors can embrace the way the pitch has played out so far in this game.
South Africa landed India on the back of an abysmal outing prior to this in red-ball cricket, especially in Asia. Things took a turn for the worse when the skipper ended up on the losing side right from the outset.
Their eighth consecutive loss at the toss came at a nation and against a team against whom a tourist side cannot let anything get in the way if they are to score a victory.
And whatever slight psychological boost that South Africa received at the end of the practice match started wiping away. Unlike the previous times when among the SENA nations, the Proteas were the only side backed to giving India a run for their money. That has changed now.
In contrast to the South African team losing the depth in quality, preferably the likes of Simon Harmer and Kyle Abbott presently, India kept upgrading on that front.
India’s ever-growing depth has seen a meteoric rise. They have replacements having lined up for each department. The men from the domestic circuit have stepped up in demanding occasions to make the most of the limited opportunities.
And in Vishakhapatnam, India may have found an opening combination not necessary to tinker with for the rest of the home season.
South Africa did have their own instances to blame themselves for in the field. Leaving experience aside, the Proteas were at least relied on to create a lasting impression against India. These young men showed plenty of heart in the recently concluded T20 leg against the same opponent.
However, on Wednesday, it went missing. For obvious reasons, Test cricket is where the players must remain disciplined for the most part, despite nothing going their way. Again, South Africa lacked enough discipline to make the openers uncomfortable.
It was the new ball that moved for a brief time. But the sun kept shining in the first hour, making the deck unfriendly for the bowlers. Along with the red cherry getting soft, this is where the skills of the bowlers come into play.
And despite keeping their control percentage under check, the pacemen could make no significant strides. By this time, the openers found their feet and got a proper grip. The two set batsmen dealt with the spinners more brutally, especially in the second session.
Dane Piedt, Keshav Maharaj and Senuran Muthusamy all displayed inconsistencies while bowling. And South Africa’s woes on day one intersected at consistency and intensity.
At least one bowler from each session fell short of the greatest version they needed to be to break this partnership.
It will be interesting to see how South Africa approach the second day. This irrefutable depth of a Virat Kohli-led Indian side has all the ingredients to swallow the visitors. And they have laid its foundation.
For South Africa, it is an examination of their character and a massive opportunity at the same time to script a new era.