Ashwin takes two but South Africa in control

Indian team

Indian team

Day 1 report: Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was delighted after his three wickets helped India reduce South Africa to 269/6 in their first innings on the first day of the second Test match on Saturday.

The Indian bowlers toiled manfully on a very hot day, with du Plessis having won the toss and opted to make first use of a track that had grown browner in the days leading up to the Test, and belied the assertions of not having much turn, as well as having plenty of bounce. However the 42 runs he shared for the eight wicket with Du Plessis, may yet prove crucial in this match.

Ashwin and Sharma were the two outstanding bowlers for the Indians; with the off-spinner picking up 4/113 in 38.5 overs, while Sharma, who replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, claimed 3/46 in 22 overs. His drives through mid-on and mid-off regions against the fuller deliveries were a joy to watch while he was equally punishing against the shorter-deliveries.

South Africa handed a Test debut to seamer Lungi Ngidi with Dale Steyn ruled out for the remainder of the series after bruising his heel in the Proteas' 72-run victory in Cape Town. Even if it is a flattish deck, one has to apply himself and Markram looked at home from the word go.

Dean Elgar, after surviving a testing period against Ishant Sharma, had established a strong opening stand along with Markram as India went wicketless in the opening session.

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The openers were unseparated at lunch, but shortly after, Ashwin finally broke through Elgar's stubbornness, with the opener stepping out and pushing at the ball that Vijay latched on to, close in. He had his man straight after lunch as Elgar tried to hit his way out of trouble only to stab a cleverly-flighted delivery to backward point. Quinton too didn't bother the scorers as he was out cutting Ashwin straight to Kohli at first slip.

Ashwin was the only Indian bowlers who looked threatening as he finished with three wickets on the first day wicket at Centurion.

Hardik Pandya fielded off his own bowling to run out Amla at the non-striker's end from short leg, before Vernon Philander's ball-watching saw him sent packing - Philander jogging through for an attempted single after failing to see Faf du Plessis bellowing at him to stay put. He struck the ball with authority, particularly off the back foot, before he tried to guide a ball from Ashwin towards third man and was caught behind by Parthiv Patel.

In the side, only due to an injury to Saha, Patel's drop proved costly for the visitors as Amla went on to add another 51 runs and was looking good for his 29th Test ton before being run-out.

India turned the screws in the third session of the day.

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