South Africa v India, 1st Test, Centurion, 1st day December 16, 2010

The football chant and Sehwag's no-show

ESPNcricinfo presents the plays of the first day of the first Test between South Africa and India at SuperSport Park

The chant
At first it sounded like football fans had sneaked into the most cricketing of the venues. On closer observation, a smart innovation could be noticed. They were not singing "Ole Ole" but "Morneee / Morne Morne Morne / Moorneee". And Morne Morkel didn't disappoint. The pitch was to his liking, the atmosphere too, and he gave Indians some chin-, shoulder-, and chest-music. Not to mention the two wickets he picked up in that first spell. And at the end of each of those overs, he was welcomed to his fine-leg position by a happy crowd.

The no-show
There was so much anticipation, so much build-up (some might consider this space guilty of adding to the hype) to the contest between the two most exciting cricketers in the world: Dale Steyn and Virender Sehwag. Sadly it lasted only three balls. Two of them swung away from wide outside off, Sehwag left them alone. You could feel the itch. The over ended. When Sehwag faced Steyn next, he couldn't hold himself back, swung at one and got a thick outside edge, so thick it carried to third man. Steyn 1, Sehwag 0.

The celebration
After he got Rahul Dravid with a peach, Morkel was ecstatic and slipped on the pitch, next to the stumps, but he recovered soon and started his celebration while he was still on the ground. His team-mates surrounded him soon. They knew they were not the ones who were down.

The modern-captaincy moment
In the 18th over, when Sachin Tendulkar pulled Lonwabo Tsotsobe for a second boundary in two overs, Graeme Smith's response was typical of modern captains. Out went the square leg to deep midwicket, with the score 40 for 3 and the bowling side obviously on top on a spicy pitch.

The real heroes
India will not like Hilbert Smit, the chief groundsman at SuperSport Park, and his team for making play possible, but they were the real champions today. Those coming from Johannesburg drove through high water, and the ones who reached the ground early wondered if there would be play even on the second day. It had rained continuously very much throughout the night. The moment it stopped coming down, though, they and their superb drainage system got into action. The puddles of water disappeared in minutes, and they made possible two short, exhilarating sessions of play. Smith's gratitude at the toss was well earned by the groundstaff.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sunnymate on December 17, 2010, 10:25 GMT

    hi guys whts wrong with the people here.. if india batsmen hvnt perform one day. hw badly u can think about that.. hw the indian haters shouting here we dont deserve for no 1 position... we are on number 1 since sep 2008 bcoz we are performing that why we are on no 1 .. this is doestnt matter where we r playing. playing international cricket is always tough challenge whether it is in subcontinet or anywhere else. this is 3 test match series nt one day series . lets see wht happen ok . just chill and see the progress

  • six-hitter on December 17, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    Same pitch? Doesn't seem to be.

  • SamAsh07 on December 17, 2010, 9:59 GMT

    Haha Indians got brushed aside by South Africa, if you all go back 1-2 months, this same South Africa team was denied any test victory by Pakistan, the same bowling that was firewalled out of every innings by Pakistan is thrashing the Indian's so-called super batsmen (well I do agree that Sachin is great, he is a pure icon).

  • inertia85 on December 17, 2010, 9:49 GMT

    The problem is Indian team was under prepared. When last had they played on faster and bouncier pitches. They were easily peppered up by Morkel and Steyn and then plucked off one by one. The only batsman who looked remotely comfortable was Dravid who was beaten by an absolute beauty. Look the rain and dampness played a part and those conditions definitely played to Steyn and Morkel's advantage but they are the best opening pair in the world. Everyone knows that India's strength is their batting and that was seriously exposed yesterday. Sehwag is way too predictable, he needs to bat using his head. India's bowling is average at best with Zaheer out of action. they wont make any inroads into the SA batting line up which enjoys playing at Supersport park! Centurian is a fortress. Prepare to watch India being demolished.

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    It wont be easy for SA's batsmen today, BUT India dont have a bowler of Steyn or Morkel's calibre playing. I reckon if the SA batsmen keep their heads, SA can reach 400+.

  • CandidIndian on December 17, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    @LakmalPhysics- and my apologies if some Indians came in Srilankan articles and wrote irrelevant things .SL is a great team no way less than India and Sanga is a great player one of the best in the world, that is a truth and it will remain that way even if some people doesnt accept it.About Srilanka winning in Australia , even Indians managed to win an ODI series in Australia even a test match at Perth under testing conditions .But everyday is not same my friend .SA are better than us at the moment but lot of cricket is still to be played in series.

  • CandidIndian on December 17, 2010, 6:56 GMT

    @lankan_neutral-Well no 1 status of India dosent reflect they are all time great , this ranking just reflects how a team is playing currently.recently that is in last 3-4 years India won series in Eng, WI and NZ and managed to draw in SL at 1-1.At home they won against Eng,SL,Aus,NZ.Everyone agrees on one thing that till India doesnt achieve series victory in SA and Aus, they wont be accepted as no1 .About no 1 team tottering at 136-9 , ups and downs are part of cricket .Even one the the greatest teams ever that is of Steve Waugh they came to India in 2001 and lost the series 2-1, does that mean they doesnt deserve to be all time great.It wont happen that if a team is on top of ranking they will score 400 in every innings.SA has done better than us we are aware of that.In their last tour of India they almost replaced us as no 1 but they lost the last test match with just 9 balls left .This time if they beat us they will be no 1 but wait for series to end.

  • Cricket__sri on December 17, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Hope Viru slams a biggie in the coming innings..

  • MohsinKhan83 on December 17, 2010, 5:25 GMT

    @Sajeesh.M.S.. Akram has played most of his cricket on batting friendly pitches and yet has an outstanding record.and more often than not he has produced a match winning performance when his team needed him most with great consistency throughout his career. Akram unlike the 'GREAT' tendulkar was not one to go after the records..He brought out his best when his team needed him most. he terrorized almost every batsmen that faced him. the same cannot be said about sachin who may have many records to his name and is no doubt a good batsmen but rarely performs when his team needs him to..what is the worth of all those records if he can't win his team the match. Wasim was man of the match in Pakistan's worldcup victory in 92..and sahin's performance in 03 final is not even worth mentioning.

  • dummy4fb on December 17, 2010, 5:17 GMT

    India got to reach a total of at least 175 .Then they must have a strong chance.. unadkat is making his debut but he is a man of sheer talent.. and ishant has done well in past outside the subcontinent.and sreesanth has the ability to strike with new its not over yet.lets see how southafrica bats!

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