After 10 overs‚ Elgar and Markram were chipping away with respective scores of nine and 11 as they withstood pressure from Indian bowlers Jasprit Bumrah‚ Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.
The Cape Town Test, one that India lost to by 72 runs in nearly four days, with one of those days getting robbed by rain, led to one such build-up. "It was very slow and there was bounce, sometimes people watching the game mistake bounce for big spin", Ashwin said.
Two years ago in India, South Africa witnessed not only the end of their proud unbeaten record on foreign soils but also experienced their worst ever defeat against a subcontinental team by 0-3.
Hashim Amla, trying to end a run of moderate form, was 35 not out at tea.
South African captain Faf du Plessis said the history of the ground favoured teams batting first.
Philander's run out in the next over came as he set off for a run as the ball looped into the air and dropped between three India fielders. Now that Morkel has embraced the need to bowl a slightly fuller length, he is the complete package and though he is often forgotten - he was not mentioned at all in du Plessis' pre-match press conference - he is crucial to South Africa's continued success.
"It's all part of the game. With his body being so strong and the mind that he has on his shoulders, always looking to improve, the best is yet to come", du Plessis said.
There have been murmurings that South Africa may even select a fifth seamer and leave spinner Keshav Maharaj on the sidelines, with Duanne Olivier, Andile Phehlukwayo and uncapped Lungi Ngidi in the squad to offer that option.
South Africa had resumed after lunch on 78 without loss and 23-year-old Markram seemed set for his century as he took the attack to the Indian bowlers. He took three wickets in his opening three overs during the first innings.
The logic behind bringing back Ishant is his ability to bowl long spells to the tune of 11-12 overs, and the team management is well aware that the kookaburra seam wears out easily.
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"My first-class team-mates there would advice that I have to develop a lot of patience, and hearing those things from them was definitely a reality check for me".
Patel ended Markram's innings when he caught him behind off Ashwin - but then dropped Amla on 30 down the leg side off Ishant, the batsman's second lifeline after Pandya had shelled a tough chance at short mid-wicket when he had 14.
Markram has two test centuries and two half-centuries in his first five tests and has been out in the 90s twice now in his first seven test innings. "I am just taking the confidence forward, and I am trying to get better as the day goes and by the end of this series I will be a far better bowler than what I started". If players fit in the kind of balance we want to go in with as a side then they will fit in.