The day all us Protea fans had been looking forward to had finally arrived. The start of their Test series against India.
While we were all excited to watch Test Cricket being played by other countries, there’s just an extra special excitement that comes from a South African Test series.
We all had high hopes, but those hopes were quickly dashed as new opening pair, Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal put on a wonderfully frustrating double century stand, taking India to 202-0 as rain forced a premature stumps.
Sharma and Agarwal both brought up their half-centuries on either side of the lunch break and already then, we knew it was going to be a long day for South Africa in the field.
After losing the toss and being put in to bowl, South Africa needed early wickets. Unfortunately though, they did not attack the stumps enough in the 1st hour as far too many deliveries were allowed to be left alone by the opening batsmen.
The new ball is absolutely vital in India and to see it wasted with only a handful of deliveries hitting the stumps was disappointing.
South Africa’s team selection was up for debate throughout the first day. They decided to drop the extra specialist batsman, Zubayr Hamza in favour of the extra spinner, meaning they went in with three specialist spinners in Keshav Maharaj, Dane Piedt and the debutant, Senuran Muthusamy, who became the 101st Test cricketer to represent South Africa.
The experiment of going in with three spinners however didn’t work for the visitors as they demonstrated a lack of consistency and intensity.
Dane Piedt in particular was incredibly poor, going at over 6 an over. International cricket is extremely different to domestic cricket and Piedt is finding that out.
The day though belongs to Rohit Sharma, who, opening the batting for the first time in Tests, scored a magnificent century, his 4th in Test Cricket and with it, his sixth consecutive 50+ score at home.
He demonstrated great application in the middle, taking his time in the early stages of the innings, and then his stroke play came through when he looked to attack the spinners.
While opening stands have been declining over the past five years, with only two century opening stands in 2019, Sharma and Agarwal did a fantastic job to take India to their first century opening stand since June 2018.
It was an incredibly frustrating and long day for the Protea players (and fans) but the Test match is not over yet, there is still a long way to go.
South Africa had a poor first day but they must believe they can pull things back on Day 2. They simply don’t have a choice otherwise.
Play will resume on Thursday 3rd October at 6am SA time.