MOHALI, India (Reuters) – Part-time spinner Dean Elgar ripped through India’s batting line-up with four wickets as South Africa made the hosts rue their decision to bat first on the opening day of the first test on Thursday.
India captain Virat Kohli said he felt Thursday would be the best day for batting on the spin friendly Mohali track but his side failed to capitalise as they were bundled out for 201 after tea to make it an unhappy 26th birthday for the skipper.
South Africa did not fare much better with the bat as India’s spinners picked up two quick wickets to leave the touring side in a spot of bother at 28-2 at stumps.
Opener Stiaan van Zyl was out leg before when he shouldered arms to Ravichandran Ashwin, while Faf du Plessis was bowled by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja with the ball hitting his off-stump after he had left it.
Elgar (13) and captain Hashim Amla (nine) were at the crease at the close of play.
Earlier, paceman Vernon Philander sent back opener Shikhar Dhawan (zero) before India had even got on the scoreboard when he edged one to Amla at slip in the second over of the day.
India recovered from the early jolt through a second-wicket stand of 63 between Murali Vijay (75) and Cheteshwar Pujara (31), forcing Amla to make a bowling change with Elgar.
The left-armer, who had never taken more than one wicket in an innings before, made an immediate impact by dismissing Pujara leg before with his fourth delivery.
The dismissal brought Kohli to the crease but debutant fast bowler Kagiso Rabada, 20, made it a birthday to forget for the batsman when he had him caught at short cover off a leading edge for his first wicket in tests.
Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane (15) added 37 for the fourth wicket to give India hopes of a fightback before the latter became Elgar’s second victim.
Elgar returned in his next over to dismiss wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha for a first ball duck before Jadeja (38) saw off the hat-trick delivery.
Vijay looked the most comfortable among the Indian batsmen at the crease and brought up his 12th fifty in tests before getting out lbw to off-spinner Simon Harmer while attempting a sweep shot.
Amit Mishra (six) fell to Elgar after an injudicious attacking shot as the bowler finished with career-best figures of 4-22.
Jadeja, returning to the side after an absence of almost 15 months, and Ashwin added a crucial 42 for the eighth wicket before the left-hander was out lbw to Philander.
Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron had no clue how to deal with leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s googly and were both bowled out in the same over to end the innings.
(Writing by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Peter Rutherford/Patrick Johnston)