By the end of the day, South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein could afford to look at the lighter side of the early mayhem India medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar had triggered by reducing the hosts to 12 for 3. With Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Alma all back in the hut, South Africa were in real trouble after winning the toss and electing to bat in the first Test at Newlands.
“Luckily our phones get taken away otherwise I was getting an Uber and leaving for hotel at 12/3,” Benkenstein said at the end of the day’s play.
“They are quality bowling attack. At that stage I was sitting there and wondering how we are going to score runs on this wicket. I just think that class and genius of AB and tenacity of captain (Faf du Plessis), that partnership, even that just one over (when de Villiers slammed Bhuvneshwar for four fours) changed the game. (It) made the bowlers worry about their lengths and that partnership of 100 runs got us back in the game and brought belief back in the change room but at 12/3 not a great feeling as batting coach,” he said.
Bhuvneshwar had struck in the third ball of the innings to remove Elgar and followed it up with a wicket each in his next two overs.
However, the 114-run partnership between AB de Villiers and Faf Du Plessis helped South Africa recover and lower order contributions propped the total to 286.
The rate at which South Africa were scoring runs despite India striking early was a worry for the bowlers, admitted Bhuvneshwar, who finished with figures of 4 for 87.
Gave away 30 runs extra: Bhuvi
“If we want to be hard on ourselves, then yes we did give away a few too many runs to South Africa,” he said in his post-match comments.
“I think they scored 25-30 odd extra runs. In every hour of play, there were 2-3 overs where we gave them easy boundaries in one over. That is an area we can improve on.
“It (high run-rate) is something of a concern for us. During the breaks also we were talking about bringing the run-rate down because in Test cricket four runs per over is huge. This is something we want to improve in the next innings, but overall we are happy with the lines and lengths we bowled,” he added.
The medium pacer could have finished with five wickets if Shikhar Dhawan hadn’t spilled a chance offered by Keshav Maharaj.
“No, I am not disappointed at not taking five-wicket haul. This is part of the game and there will be other opportunities to take five wicket hauls.”