One will need to think again if this is actually a contest between the two top and supposedly evenly matched sides of the world.
Questioning the ability of a team on the very first day of the tour sounds premature and perhaps juvenile as well, but then it can't be helped when the team puts in as spineless show as India did on Thursday.
It took South African pacemen just 38 overs --- that's what could be bowled following a delayed start due to rain --- to expose India's vulnerability on the quick and seaming track, and leave them tottering at 136 for 9. Agreed M.S. Dhoni lost a crucial toss and India had to bat first on a track that had some juice in it, still one would have expected a much better show from arguably the best batting line-up in the world. Not taking any credit away from Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, it could still be said that most of the Indian batsmen didn't show courage and patience to dig in their heels and fight it out manly.
The downfall started with Virender Sehwag in the third over. He had barely played two balls when he tried to smash Dale Styen through covers with his feet rooted to the crease. In the sub-continent, the ball might have gone searing through the covers, but here it took the outside edge to fly straight into the hands of Hashim Amla at third man, positioned there specifically for that chance. It's always tempting to brush aside Sehwag's recklessness as his method, but this time it's far too extravagant even by his own standards.
For his partner Gautam Gambhir, it was a baptism by fire in South Africa. The left-hander, peppered with short stuff by Morne Morkel, looked ill at ease in his about an hour-long stay on the wicket. While the South African bowlers used short balls to trouble him, it was a fuller Morkel delivery that lured him into a false drive, and had him caught in the slips.
A counter attack by Sachin Tendulkar raised some hopes for India, but the batsmen at the other failed consistently.
While Rahul Dravid, who went past Brian Lara on Thursday to become the third highest run-getter, was beaten for pace by Morkel just when he appeared settling in, Laxman just couldn't find enough time to prevent a Steyn yorker crashing into his middle stump.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, handled the pacemen well. He didn't look in any discomfort, and handled the bounce and movement well, proving it's possible to face Steyn and co. on this track. However, his cameo (36) was cut short by the brilliance of Steyn who caught him plumb in front.