Cape Town: SA batting coach Dale Benkenstein had almost taken an Uber to hotel from Newlands Cricket Ground after watching the side being reduced to 12/3 during the maiden hour of Day 1 morning of the first Test against India on Friday. “It was just one over (when de Villiers score 17 runs off Bhuvneshwar Kumar) where AB (De Villiers) just changed the game really,” Benkenstein said at the news conference after the end of Day 1’s play.
De Villiers, who had been out of the game for over a year and made his return with jsut concluded Zimbabwe series, scored much needed 65, wherein 44 runs came in boundaries, and helped proteas in posting a respectable 286/10. After South African skipper Faf Du Plessis decided to bat first, they faced a blistering attack from Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He scalped opening batsmen and Hashim Amla in his first three overs.
But De Villiers, instead of cowing down, played his natural game and smashed Kumar for four fours in an over and impacted his and others’ confidence. “He made the bowlers have to worry about their lengths and I think, you know, that partnership of a 100 runs (between Villiers and Plessis) just really got us back in the game, brought belief back in the change room,” Benkenstein said.
When India came onto bat, they knew they would struggle in the final hour and a quarter of play and exactly that is what happened. India at the close of play is tottering at 28/3, with both openers and Kohli back in the pavilion. “We are playing in South Africa, not in (Indian) subcontinent. We expected that the kind of bowling they did so there was not really surprise with that. But now the focus is on to do well tomorrow,” Kumar, who scalped four wickets today, told mediapersons.