Bahutule shines as Smith and Ontong get batting practice
Sairaj Bahutule bowled valiantly to take 4 for 64 in 31 overs, but none of his fellow bowlers could back him up, as the South Africans strode to 226 for 5 declared on the first day of their tour game, in reply to which the Indians were 4 for no loss. Graeme Smith made a laboured 86 while Justin Ontong struck 70, but none of the other batsmen got the batting practice they needed before the first Test.
The South Africans began at a crawl, with Smith and Jacques Rudolph adding 72 in 174 balls. Rudolph showed little aggressive intent in his 26, compiled painstakingly off 103 balls, and was the first batsman to depart, run out by Amit Bhandari.
Smith and Ontong then added 92, before Smith, in sight of a century, was stumped by MS Dhoni off Bahutule's bowling (164 for 2). Ontong kept an end up, but wickets fell regularly, and Smith eventually declared a few minutes before the close. The timing of the declaration was a bit strange, as newcomer Hashim Amla, who has a first-class average of 50, was unbeaten on 2, and would surely have craved some more time out in the middle. He will, no doubt, bat higher up the order in the second innings.
The Indian openers batted out the three overs left in the days play safely. On the first day, the focus was on how the South Africans adapted to Indian conditions. On the second, a whole slew of Indian batting hopefuls would be on view.