India fall to pace and bounce

Philander claims 6 for 42 as South Africa post 72-run win to take 1-0 lead

India fall to pace and bounce

Bridgetown, Ahmedabad, Galle and now Cape Town -- India's fourth innings heart-breaks returned to haunt them again.

While India's biggest nightmare remains Bridgetown -- where they collapsed for 81 all out while chasing a mere 120-run target for a historic win in 1997 under Sachin Tendulkar -- their latest defeat at the hands of South Africa in the first Test here at Newlands on Monday will hurt them for a long time to come unless there is an immediate redemption.

The Indian pace attack lived up to the pre-series hype, blasting the hosts out for a paltry 130 in their second hit and ensuring that Virat Kohli and his men didn't have to chase more than 208 runs for a famous win on a windy day.

Their famed batsmen, however, once again failed the test of pace and bounce to crash to 135 all out as local man Vernon Philander (6/42) led the way for the hosts. Philander, who bagged his career-best figures in an innings, made sure that South Africa hardly felt the absence of the injured paceman Dale Steyn in their 72-run romp. South Africa lead the three-Test series 1-0 and it's not going to get any easier for India from here on.

The Indian pacemen rattled the Proteas' batsmen with pace, bounce and lateral movement in the morning session and their South African counterparts, with a  better pedigree, weren't going to be too off the mark on a juicy pitch. On a day when 18 wickets fell in less than three sessions, South Africa came out on top thanks to their marginally better batting show -- their 77-run first innings lead proving crucial in the final outcome.    

At the end of second day's play, Cheteshwar Pujara, sounding a touch too optimistic, had said that India were comfortable chasing anywhere around 350. They, however, didn't have to make as many runs for their maiden victory here. They needed as much as they had managed in their first innings for a piece of history but all they could manage was five more than South Africa's second innings total.

The Indian quicks were all fire and brimstone in the morning session as the South African batsmen felt the heat. Mohammad Shami (3/28), Jasprit Bumrah (3/39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/33) shared the spoils to pack off the hosts in 41.2 overs. AB de Villiers (35) waged a lone battle in the face of a relentlessly hostile attack before being dismissed as the last man at the stroke of lunch.

Menacing

Shami, after a below-par show in the first innings, was at his menacing best while Bumrah didn't let the pressure ease with twin strikes in quick succession. Having seen Shami and Bumrah reap benefits of good bowling, Bhuvneshwar got into thick of things by removing Keshav Maharaj and Morne Morkel to provide India with a genuine chance of winning the match.

The hosts added exactly 65 runs at the cost of eight wickets to their overnight total of 65/2 to set India a target of 208. It was a tricky target but not an unachievable one. Though their openers were anything but convincing during their 30-run stand, it was an encouraging start under the circumstances.

But once Dhawan fell, once again top-edging a delivery, Vijay too followed soon, chasing a Philander beauty. Pujara couldn't hang around too long, falling to Morkel. Skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma (28) then steadied the ship and had raised big hopes when India suffered a massive blow.

Kohli walked across to Philander and was rapped on the pads. He reviewed the decision more in hope than any conviction and his fears were confirmed. Kohli's dismissal opened the floodgates as Philander, Morkel and Kagiso Rabada struck repeatedly to hand India an embarrassing defeat. A 49-run stand between R Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar only delayed the inevitable.  

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