Inspired by Kagiso Rabada, South African pacers caused havoc in the second session of Day 1 at SuperSport Park, reducing India to seven down at the stroke of tea. They did this by maintaining a basic plan of attacking the off-stump line and playing with increased enthusiasm. Nevertheless, because of a heroic 70-run effort from KL Rahul, India crossed the 200-run threshold in the last session before severe weather forced an early stumping in Centurion. Playing at No. 6 for the first time in eight years, Rahul scored a fifty in his debut Test match while batting at the back end of India's lineup. This was his first Test participation in over a year.
Before he was knocked out, a single moment from the last opening-day practice went viral on social media. After being hit for consecutive boundaries by Rahul a few overs ago and a six-over sweeper cover in the very last delivery, South African fast bowler Marco Jansen lost his cool and threw a mouthful at the Indian batsman in the 45th over of the first innings of the game.
India finished Day 1 at 208 for eight after Rabada took five wickets earlier in the day, including the removal of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Debutant Nandre Burger also scored twice with the new ball.
In his 2014 Australian debut, Rahul—who had only batted at No. 6 once in his career—returned to the position as a wicketkeeper-batter and scored his 14th career fifty. In actuality, Rahul's appearance as a wicketkeeper in a red-ball match is his first-ever in the Centurion Test.