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