Virat Kohli’s 79 takes India to 223 against South Africa on Day One of 3rd Test

Virat Kohli scored a brilliant half-century for India against South Africa on Tuesday

Virat Kohli produced a masterclass of batting at the Newlands ground in Cape Town on Tuesday to score 79 from 201 balls, which pushed India tour first-innings total of 223 all-out against South Africa on the opening day of the third and final Test of the Freedom Series 2021.

Kohli’s century was the only bright spot for the Indian team against South Africa as they are looking to record their first ever series victory in the rainbow nation. Towards the end of the play on the first day, the Indians had a lot to smile about as they removed the dangerous Dean Elgar to reduce South Africa to 17/1 at stumps, trailing by another 206 runs.

India won the toss and elected to bat but their openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agrawal failed to make the impression that they have made so far on the tour. Duanne Olivier got rid of Rahul for 12 from 35 balls with one boundary whereas Kagiso Rabada, who announced his return to form with a splendid spell of fast bowling, got rid of Mayank Agrawal for 15 in the form of his first wicket.

India number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara did extremely well to score 43 from 77 balls with the help of seven boundaries but lanky South Africa left-arm fast bowler Marco Jansen had him caught behind by wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne after he added a crucial 62 runs for the third wicket in the company of Kohli.

Kohli looked to strengthen India’s position after the dismissal of Pujara but Rabada was too good for the former India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane. Rabada got an age off Rahane’s bat to remove him for 9 which left India reeling at 116/4 at one stage.

The aggressive India wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant batted  responsibly and was even successful to an extent. Pant added 51 runs for the fifth wicket in the company of Kohli to take India close to the 200-run mark. However, after Pant was dismissed for 27 from 50 balls with the help of four boundaries by Jansen, India suffered a collapse of sorts to be bowled out for just 223 in 77.3 overs.

Kohli was magnificent to the bat as he was tested to the hilt by South African fast bowlers, particularly Rabada, who was unplayable for large parts of his spells. Kohli made a fine 79 from 201 balls, hitting 12 boundaries and a six in the process but could not get to his 71st international hundred for which he has waited for more than two years.

Rabada was splendid for his side, returning with figures of 22-4-73-4 virus Jansen took 3/55 from his 18 overs which included six maidens. Olivier took 1/42 from his 18 overs, whereas Lungi Ngidi and Keshav Maharaj also claimed one wicket each for South Africa.

India did well to remove the dangerous Elgar one fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah had him caught behind at first slip to Pujara. At stumps, Aiden Markram was batting on it in the company of nightwatchman Maharaj who reached six not out.