India could not have imagined a better start to their South Africa tour. Bhuvneshwar Kumar running through South Africa’s top-order after India was asked to bowl first in Cape Town was a spectacle to cherish for years. The right-arm pacer took wickets in each of his first three overs to leave South Africa reeling at 12 for three.

On the very third ball of the day, he had South Africa’s highest run-scorer in Tests last year, Dean Elgar caught behind. In his next over, he accounted for Aiden Markram to leave the hosts reeling at seven for two. The right-arm pacer was not done yet, as in the very next over he sent back the ever-dependable Hashim Amla, as South Africa found themselves three down with just 12 on the board.

Bhuvneshwar took four wickets (Credits: AFP)

India, however, let South Africa off the hook, as AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis stitched together a 114-run stand before the lower order batsmen played handy knocks to propel the hosts to a competitive 286. The Proteas launched a stunning counterpart which took the Indian attack by surprise, and they ended up conceding too many despite having the hosts on the mat at one stage.

And Bhuvneshwar Kumar admitted the visitors conceded 25-30 extra runs.

“If we want to be hard on ourselves, then yes we did give away a few too many runs to South Africa. I think they scored 25-30-odd extra runs. In every hour of play, there were 2-3 overs, where we gave away easy boundaries. That is an area we can improve on,” Bhuvneshwar said at the end of the day’s play.

South Africa maintained a run-rate of over four runs per over before ending at 3.90 in 73.1 overs.

“It is a concern for us. During the break also, we were talking about bringing the run-rate down because in Test cricket four runs per over is a lot. This is something we want to improve when we bowl in the second innings, but overall we are happy with the lines and lengths we bowled,” added Bhuvneshwar who himself was hit for four boundaries in an over by de Villiers.

Bhuvneshwar finished with figures of four for 87 but missed out on a five-for. He could have had his fifth, but Shikhar Dhawan dropped a regulation catch in the slip cordon when Keshav Maharaj (then on nought) edged one. Maharaj went on to score 35 before being run-out. Bhuvneshwar, however, said that he was not disappointed but admitted the poor slip catching is a concern for Kohli & Co.

“No, I am not disappointed for not taking a five-wicket haul. This is part of the game, and there will be other opportunities to take five-wicket hauls. Catches do win you matches, and we want to improve this area,” he said.

“The slip cordon has held some great catches in the past so they will miss one or two. We do not go to bowl thinking they will not hold catches. We trust the slip cordon to hold their catches,” he added.

Speaking about de Villiers, who scored 65 off just 84 balls, Bhuvneshwar said: “When it comes to AB de Villiers, he is the best in the world, and you have to be at your best to bowl to him. He was counter-attacking us and took the game from us. He didn’t take it completely, but he took the session away from us. It would have been good if we had got him out early.”

De Villiers scored 65 (Credits: AFP)

India has begun their reply on a dismal note, reeling at 28 for three at the end of day’s play. However, Bhuvneshwar insisted the game is still pretty much balanced.

“I think the game is still evenly balanced on the first day. I wouldn’t say that any one team is ahead. The only on our mind about what we want to do tomorrow is to bat well and bat for as long as possible,” Bhuvneshwar signed off.

Here is the news feed:

SA v India 2018: We (India) could have bowled better, says Bhuvneshwar Kumar

SA vs Ind 2018: Statistical Review – Day 1, First Test

Catch India’s tour to South Africa here.

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