India's progress checked in 1st test vs South Africa

India bowler Hardik Pandya, left, checks his teeth ahead of singing the national anthem before the first day of the first test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South Africa players celebrate the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan on the first day of the first test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Indian bowler Hardik Pandya celebrates the taking of the wicket of South African Captain Faf du Plessis on the first day of their first day test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Indian bowler Hardik Pandya appeals for an lbw against Faf du Plessis on the first day of their first day test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South African bowler Morne Morkle celebrates the wicket of India batsman Virat Kohli, right, on the first day of the first test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Indian Captain Virat Kohli, right, watches as South African Captain Faf du Plessis tosses the coin ahead of the first day of their first day test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
India batsman Shikhar Dhawan hits a high ball which saw him dismissed for 16 runs in India's first innings on the first day of the first test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South African batsman Quinton de Kock misses the ball while Indian wicket keeper and Captain Virat Kohli looks on the first day of their Test match between South Africa and India, at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South African Keshav Maharaj avoids a ball from the bowling of Jasprit Bumrah of India on the first day of the first cricket test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
India bowler Jasprit Bumrah holds the ball during his debut match on the first day of a test match between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
The Indian team celebrates the taking of the first South African wicket during the first over on the first day of their first day test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
India bowler Mohammed Shami gestures after a delivery to South Africa AB de Villiers on the first day of a test match between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
Indian fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar takes the wicket of Dean Elgar of South Africa in the first over on the first day of their first day test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South African batsman Kagiso Rabada of South Africa watches as Indian wicket keeper Wriddhiman Saha catches a delivery on the first day of the first cricket test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)
South African bowler Dale Steyn celebrates the wicket of Indian batsman Shikhar Dhawan on the first day of the first test between South Africa and India at Newlands Stadium, in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Halden Krog)

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — India's progress was checked late on Day 1 of the first test in South Africa on Friday, with the tourists 28-3 at stumps and 258 runs behind on a tough batting surface.

India lost both openers and captain Virat Kohli as it tried to limit the damage in the 11 overs faced before the close.

Top-ranked India had rattled South Africa's batting lineup in the first skirmishes of a three-match series between test cricket's top two teams. South Africa, which was 12-3 and in similar trouble at the start of the day, battled its way to 286 all out in its first innings.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar's early blitz of seam bowling gave the Indians a promising start in another quest for a first series win in South Africa.

Kumar, who finished with 4-87, sent back Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram and Hashim Amla in the first five overs of the series-opener. A middle-order century stand between AB de Villiers (65) and Faf du Plessis (62), and a lower-order rally pushed the South Africans near to 300.

India's batsmen also struggled on the green surface in Cape Town. Murali Vijay went for 1, Dale Steyn returned to test cricket for the first time in over a year to dismiss Shikhar Dhawa for 16, and Morne Morkel had Kohli for 5 with the first ball he bowled.

Cheteshwar Pujara, on 5 not out, and Rohit Sharma, yet to score, took India to the close.

"I would say it's even," Kumar said regarding the balance of power in the match.

Those 11 overs at the end of the day gave an early glimpse of the battle that's predicted to define the series between the two teams: India's vaunted batting lineup against South Africa's fast bowlers.

The Proteas picked four of those quick bowlers for the opening test, allowing Steyn, out for over a year with a right shoulder problem, to join Vernon Philander, Morkel and Kagiso Rabada in the four-pronged pace attack.

Steyn had a wicket in his first spell back as Dhawan had a swipe at a short-pitched delivery and sent a catch swirling high up into the sky. Steyn took the catch off his own bowling.

India's quicks had the first say, though, as Kumar exploited the generous bounce, swing and seam movement at Newlands that is normally designed to play into South African hands. He forced Elgar to edge behind with the third ball of the game, trapped Markram lbw with one that swung, and also had Amla caught behind.

South Africa was saved by de Villiers and du Plessis, and a solid contribution from its middle to lower order. Wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock hit 43 off just 40 balls, and the tailenders all chipped in.

"Obviously quite an intense day, but coming off after 6 o'clock, we are very happy," South Africa batting coach Dale Benkenstein said. "The guys fought hard. Those runs down there at the bottom, especially in tough batting conditions, really are vital."

Kumar was India's best bowler, but debutant seamer Jasprit Bumrah and allrounder Hardik Pandya made two crucial breakthroughs after lunch. With the du Plessis-de Villiers partnership threatening to completely spoil India's early progress, Brumah bowled de Villiers for a memorable first test wicket.

Pandya worked hard for du Plessis' wicket, seeing an ultra-close lbw decision turned down via the decision review system before, two balls later, he forced an edge behind to dismiss the South African skipper.

Du Plessis' exit was greeted by a running, fist-pumping celebration by India skipper Kohli.

Kohli's own dismissal at the end of the day, when he nicked a short ball from Morkel, provoked an equally rowdy celebration from the South Africans.

That intensity in the field may characterize a contest where India, clearly the best team in the world after nine straight test series victories, is under scrutiny as it almost always is to prove it can win big series away from home. Of those nine successive series wins for India, six of them have come in India, and just one has been achieved outside Asia.

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