India captain Virat Kohli played a lone hand with 79 as the tourists were bowled out for 223 on the first day of the decisive third and final Test against South Africa at Newlands on Tuesday.
The home side were 17 for one in reply at the close.
Kohli’s form had been under the microscope as he returned from injury on Tuesday, but he compiled his highest score in 26 innings since he got a hundred against Bangladesh in Nov 2019 to lead India to a respectable first innings score.
Aiden Markram (eight not out) and nightwatchman Keshav Maharaj (six not out) will look to make inroads into South Africa’s deficit on the second morning.
India claimed the key scalp of in-from South African captain Dean Elgar (3) 15 minutes before the close as he edged seamer Jasprit Bumrah to Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip.
There would be no repeat of Elgar’s heroic 96 not out that steered the home side to victory in the second Test in Johannesburg.
The teams are level at 1-1 with the visitors hoping for a first ever series win in South Africa, and having won the toss and elected to bat, maybe should have made more of their good fortune.
Kohli looked comfortable at the wicket for the most part, and was involved in the only significant partnerships of the innings, 62 for the third wicket with Cheteshwar Pujara (43) and 51 for the fifth wicket with Risabh Pant (27).
South Africa bowled in good areas and will be pleased by their efforts, seamer Kagiso Rabada the pick of the bowlers with 4-73.
He claimed the wicket of Kohli as his nagging line outside off-stump induced the edge from the India skipper, who was caught by wicket-keeper Kyle Verreynne, ending his 201-ball stay at the crease.
Left-arm seamer Marco Jansen, 21, continued his fine form with 3-55 as he bowled without much luck, but confirmed his potential as a leader of the South African attack in the future.
There was also a first wicket in the series for spinner Maharaj with the pitch likely to be the most helpful of the lot to the slow bowlers later in the Test.