South African opener Aiden Markram was all praise for Indian captain Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin after Day 1. Markram was dismissed after a gritty innings of 94. The 23-year-old thus lost out on a third Test century and a first against an opposition ranked in the top five of the Test rankings. Kohli gave Markram a short send-off as the latter made his way back to the pavilion. “He came across and said, ‘Well played, you were unlucky to get out.’ It was a great touch from him. He is a massive competitor as everyone sees on the TV, but it’s great to see that he has got good values that people off the field might not see. It was a great gesture and it meant a lot,” he said in the post-match press conference.
Markram and fellow opener Dean Elgar ensured that South Africa don’t lose a wicket in the first session. It was Ravichandran Ashwin who gave India the breakthrough by sending back Elgar and breaking an 85-run partnership. It would be the highest partnership of the day for the Proteas. Markram said that the South Africans were surprised by the amount of assistance that Ashwin got from the pitch. “We didn’t expect there to be so much assistance for him. Ashwin was difficult to face. He is difficult to face on a flat wicket as well, so it did work out well for him I suppose,” Markram said, “He still had to bowl well so you need to give him some credit. It will be interesting to see if the pitch will get harder and if it will continue to spin like it did, or if it spun like that because of the grass covering. We’ll see in the next couple of days,” he said after the day’s play.
Markram, also admitted that playing Ashwin, who ended the day with the three wickets, was a welcome challenge. “Ashwin is a world class bowler. He always asking the right questions and he sets smart fields. It is not easy out there. I don’t think he would have expected to bowl as much today judging on how last week went,” he said, “They would have expected something similar. But he is a world-class bowler and it was a good challenge to get out there and face him,” he added.
Markram said that the South Africans would have liked to not lose the number of wickets they did in the final session of the day. “I thought we showed good fight, winning the toss and batting first, especially after how last week played out. It is nice to get the start we did get, and for Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers to prolong the partnership,” he said, “We would have liked not to have lost those clump of wickets at the end. It is a part of the game and we just got to be nice and positive as a side and fight for every run tomorrow morning,” he said. The game is pretty much even right now. In terms of bowling we have got taller bowlers and also being used to the conditions and it would be interesting to see how the Indians bat and make an assessment.”
Markram also expressed his dissapointment on missing out on another hundred. “Obviously, I am bitterly disappointed. It’s the second time in a short career, but I’m just going to keep saying it’s part of the game and try to be positive. Next time I get into those situations I’ll take lessons from what I’ve learnt today and hopefully get through to three figures. Even if we were ended the day two down, I still would have been disappointed. It was a bit of a nothing shot. I am not over it just yet. My next role is to try and save runs in the field and do what ever I can before we stuck in again. Probably be on in a positive space,” he said.