India emerge on top after 23-wicket mayhem in Cape Town

South Africa 62 for 3 (Markram 36*, Mukesh 2-25) and 55 (Verreynne 15, Siraj 6-15, Mukesh 2-0) trail India 153 (Kohli 46, Rohit 39, Ngidi 3-30) by 36 runs

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As many as 23 wickets tumbled on a chaotic opening day in Cape Town, including a never-before-seen collapse of 6 for 0.

It was the first time in 2522 Tests that a team had lost six wickets for no runs. India claimed that unwanted record when they went from 153 for 4 to 153 all out in 11 balls, in response to South Africa’s 55 all out, in the afternoon session.

Despite that collapse, India were still in front on a Newlands pitch that provided big seam movement and variable bounce throughout the day.

With even the old(ish) ball misbehaving off the surface, the batters found it fiendishly difficult to bat, especially when the bowlers forced them to play a shot. Only once has more wickets fallen in a day in Test cricket in this century.

It was that kind of a day in Cape Town.

Dean Elgar was dismissed twice on the first day, in his last Test match. After opting to bat, he was bowled by Mohammed Siraj off an inside edge for 4 in the first innings, where South Africa folded in 23.2 overs.

KL Rahul was the first of three wickets to fall in one over off Lungi Ngidi•Jan 03, 2024•Gallo Images/Getty Images

Siraj’s new-ball spell of 9-3-15-6 skittled South Africa for 55 – the lowest total against India in Test cricket – in a session.

India then needed less than ten overs to take the lead, with Rohit Sharma motoring along at better than a run-a-ball during those early exchanges.

However, the late collapse, triggered by Lungi Ngidi’s triple-strike, brought South Africa back into the game.

Aiden Markram, who was the first batter to be dismissed on the day, then somehow survived 51 balls in South Africa’s second innings to bring his team even closer to parity.

India, though, still have a substantial lead of 36, which appears even bigger on this surface. (ESPNcricinfo) 

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