South Africa v India: 23 wickets fall on manic opening day of Cape Town Test

Hosts trail by 36 runs with seven second-innings wickets in hand in second Test

South Africa captain Dean Elgar was dismissed twice on the opening day of the Cape Town Test against India - his final match. AFP
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An incredible 23 wickets fell on the first day of the New Year's Test between South Africa and India in Cape Town, with the hosts reaching 62-3 at stumps in their second innings, trailing the tourists by 36 runs.

Aiden Markram (36 not out) and David Bedingham (seven not out) were at the crease, hoping to post a challenging target for India.

Seamer Mohammed Siraj started the day in scintillating fashion, picking up career-best 6-15 as the visitors skittled their hosts for just 55 in the first innings after they elected to bat on a wicket offering plenty of assistance to the bowlers.

India were coasting at 153-4 in reply, on track to bat just once in the game and take a match-winning lead. But then came the most incredible passage of play as India lost six wickets without scoring a run, the first time that has happened in Tests.

The list of unwanted milestones did not stop there for the visitors as they had six batsmen dismissed for ducks – which equalled the previous record.

The first two innings lasted 349 balls, the second fewest in 147 years of Test cricket.

In the second outing, South Africa lost captain Dean Elgar twice in the day before his retirement, which he announced ahead of the series. He scored four and 12.

Mukesh Kumar (2-25) grabbed Elgar's wicket in the second innings, and that of Tony de Zorzi (2 & 1), while Jasprit Bumrah removed debutant Tristan Stubbs (3 & 1) as the home side were left teetering at the close.

South Africa were pegged back in their first innings by a superb nine-over spell from Siraj, who got late movement on both sides.

What also aided India was their catching as the slip fielders were in top form the entire day, snapping up every chance that came their way.

India were looking good in their first innings as Rohit Sharma (39) and Shubman Gill (36) put on 55 for the second wicket, the day’s highest partnership.

Burger removed Sharma before Gill added 33 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli.

But Burger then had Gill caught in the gully and dismissed Shreyas Iyer for a two-ball duck.

Kohli went on to make 46, sharing a stand of 43 for the fifth wicket with KL Rahul as India went to tea in a seemingly healthy position.

Kagiso Rabada (3-38), Lungi Ngidi (3-30) and Burger (3-42) all got extravagant help from the older ball to decimate India's batting.

"I would take 100 (victory target) all day," Elgar said after the day's play. "When our bowlers click they can rip through any batting line-up and on this wicket that is possible."

Elgar was out twice on the same day in his final Test, having won the toss and elected to bat on what he knew would be a tricky surface.

"I didn’t know it would play in that way though, with the naked eye it did not look so bad," he said. "But it’s one of those wickets where if you knuckle down, you never know what can happen.

"You still have to put the ball in the right area and they (India) executed that to a tee. This pitch just seemed to get quicker as the (first) session went on. I don’t know what to make of it.

"The older ball was still doing something. We’ve just experienced a really crazy day of Test cricket."

Updated: January 04, 2024, 5:10 AM