Match Report:


Rahul rescues India after Rabada’s Boxing Day five-for

India’s No.6 singlehandedly ensures the tourists push beyond 200 in an entertaining day one at Centurion Park

Kagiso Rabada has grabbed a five-wicket haul on the opening day of the first Test at Centurion Park to put South Africa in a strong position against India.

However, after the tourists were reduced to 7-164 KL Rahul fought back before bad light and a thunderstorm brought play to a premature close with India 8-208.

Rahul was unbeaten on 70 when poor visibility and showers halted proceedings around 80 minutes before Tuesday's scheduled close at the highveld venue near Pretoria.

Rabada's pace proved too hot to handle as he returned figures of 5-44 off 17 overs while debutant Nandre Burger took two wickets with his first 13 balls in Test cricket.

Rabada's Boxing Day efforts saw him pass 500 international wickets // Getty

India, 3-91 at lunch, were pegged back as they lost three wickets for 30 runs early in the second session when Rabada showed his class.

He bowled Shreyas Iyer for 31, had Virat Kohli caught behind for 38 as he feathered a stunning delivery and had Ravichandran Ashwin (8) caught at second slip by leaping substitute fielder Wiaan Mulder.

Rahul, however, proved a roadblock for the home side, who were hoping to dismiss India for under 200 on a track tailor-made for their all-seam attack.

He shared a 43-run partnership for the seventh wicket before Rabada returned to have Shardul Thakur caught by Dean Elgar for 24 and claim his 14th five-wicket haul in Tests.

But Rahul continued to torment the attack as he assumed the responsibility with his tail-end partners, his 70 runs coming quickly off 105 balls and taking India past 200.

South Africa had put India into bat and, after a wet outfield delayed the start by 30 minutes, Rabada made the initial breakthrough. Indian captain Rohit Sharma's injudicious hook presented Burger with a catch at long leg.

It was followed by more of dream start for Burger, one of two new caps for South Africa alongside David Bedingham.

The 28-year-old had Yashasvi Jaiswal and Shubman Gill caught behind to leave India teetering on 24-3 but Kohli and Iyer led a fight back with a 68-run partnership, though both were dropped on four.

It was the first Test for Rabada since South Africa beat the West Indies in Johannesburg in March, but he showed no ill-effects from his long absence from first-class cricket.

"I was pretty focused in my training and I knew what I wanted to get out of my training but I think days like this happened in cricket, where sometimes you get the ball in the right areas and you're successful and today was just my day," he told reporters.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I bowled. All week, the ball has been coming up nicely so I came into the match quite confident and I'm just glad that all the focus and hard work paid off. My mind and body was feeling good coming into this Test series."

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma pulled up with a hamstring strain as he chased a boundary-bound shot from Kohli before lunch. A scan revealed a left hamstring strain.

"He will undergo daily medical evaluations to determine his participation in the match," the team said in a statement.

Bavuma had only recently returned from a similar injury.