India made a solid start to its latest quest for a first test series win in South Africa by reaching 83-0 at lunch on Day 1 of the opening test in Centurion on Sunday.

Mayank Agarwal was 46 not out and KL Rahul 29 not out as India followed its decision to bat first by progressing through the first session at SuperSport Park without losing a wicket.

Agarwal was dropped by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock — a tough chance from an edge that de Kock dived to his right for but couldn’t hold one-handed. That denied 6-foot-8 South Africa seam bowler Marco Jansen a wicket on his test debut.

But other than that, India’s openers were relatively untroubled and South Africa’s fast bowlers were lackluster on a Centurion pitch that was playing much slower than it normally does.

KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal became only the fifth Indian pair to stitch a 50-plus opening partnership for India in Tests in South Africa. 

Fifty-plus opening stands for India in South Africa

Wasim Jaffer, Dinesh Karthik – 153 in Cape Town – 2007
Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag – 137 in Centurion – 2010
Nayan Mongia, Vikram Rathour – 90 in Johannesburg in 1997
Ajay Jadeja, Ravi Shastri – 68 in Johannesburg in 1992
Mayank and Rahul – 83* – in Centurion in 2021

The three-test series is the first assignment away from home for new India coach Rahul Dravid and he will be satisfied with that opening session on tour in charge of the world’s top-ranked test team.

India started its search for a maiden series win in South Africa on its eighth test tour to the country with no major surprises in its lineup. Jasprit Bumrah will lead a four-man seam bowling attack with Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj backing him up.

Cheteshwar Pujara, captain Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant are the backbone of the batting.

South Africa gave Jansen his international debut in the absence of Anrich Nortje, its most effective fast bowler who is out of the series with injury. Duanne Olivier, who has returned from a spell playing in England and is back in South Africa’s squad, was not recalled by the home team despite being tipped by many to return.

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