Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who scalped 4 wickets in the first innings of the opening Test against South Africa at Newlands, acknowledged that the visitors leaked 30 runs too many at the end to restrict the hosts at 286.
Within the 5 overs of play in the first session, India have reduced South Africa to 12 for 3. However, things have changed rather quickly as the experienced duo of AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis stitched a quick stand of 114-run for the fourth wicket.
"If we want to be hard on ourselves, then yes we did give away a few too many runs to South Africa. I think they scored 25-30-odd extra runs. In every hour of play, there were 2-3 overs, where we gave away easy boundaries. That is an area we can improve on," Bhuvneshwar was quoted by PTI as saying after the end of first days play.
"It is a concern for us. During the break also, we were talking about bringing the run-rate down because in Test cricket four runs per over is a lot. This is something we want to improve when we bowl in the second innings but overall we are happy with the lines and lengths we bowled," he added.
Bhuvi had a chance to grab his fifth 5-wicket haul in Test cricket if not for a regular slip catch being dropped by Shikhar Dhawan when Proteas spinner Keshav Maharaj was on zero.
When asked whether he is disappointed with the Indian slip cordon effort, Kumar said: "No, I am not disappointed for not taking a five-wicket haul. This is part of the game and there will be other opportunities to take five wicket hauls. Catches do win you matches and we want to improve this area."
"The slip cordon has held some great catches in the past so they will miss one or two. We do not go to bowl thinking they will not hold catches. We trust the slip cordon to hold their catches," he further asserted.
Talking about South Africa’s batting maverick AB de Villiers, who played a counter-attacking knock of 65 on a seaming pitch, Bhuvneshwar said: "When it comes to AB de Villiers, he is the best in the world and you have to be at your best to bowl to him. He was counter-attacking us and took the game from us. He didn't take it completely but he took the session away from us. It would have been good if we had got him out early."
In the post-lunch session, Indian bowlers struck two early blows to dent the hosts further. At one stage South Africa were 142 for 5 but the collective effort of tailenders including Maharaj (35), Philander (23), and Rabada (26) took the home team to 286. In order to get the lower-order out, the Indian pace battery attacked them with barrage of short-pitched deliveries, a tactic that didn't really work.
"It was a strategy to get them out. In the first two sessions, we didn't bowl short at all. In the third session, we wanted to get them out quickly and it was part of our planning.
"As a bowler, you want to go and bowl in helpful conditions in South Africa, England and Australia. But it is also important to bowl in the right areas, and they differ from bowler to bowler depending on conditions and the opposition," Bhuvi revealed.
India finished the day at 28 for 3 owing to the combination of some irresponsible shots and top-notch bowling from the fiery Proteas pace attack. However, Bhuvneshwar reckons that the game is evenly balanced as of now.
"I think the game is still evenly balanced on first day. I wouldn't say that any one team is ahead. The only on our mind about what we want to do tomorrow is to bat well and bat for as long as possible," Bhuvi concluded.