Amidst conditions that saw the fall of great batsmen Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis and Cheteshwar Pujara, all-rounder Hardik Pandya displayed tremendous grit and scored a 93-run knock to ignite some hopes for the struggling visitors in their first innings at Newlands, Cape Town.
Even though Kohli-led India lost the 1st Test by 72 runs, Pandya's posted a strong impression with his imposing knock. The 24-year-old batsman slammed 14 boundaries and a six in his entertaining 95-ball knock.
In a time when India's batting order appeared collapsing like dominoes, Pandya (93) played responsible cricket and established a 99-run partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25) to stabilise the visitors in the first innings.
Watching him contribute in tough times, captain Kohli heaped praise on the young all-rounder, calling him a "strong character" in the post-match conference on Monday.
Revealing what makes him believe in Pandya, Kohli said: "He's (Hardik Pandya) a strong character. He backs himself and we believe in him. He's performing for us now, even away from home. That knock was brilliant, showed a lot of character."
Pacer Vernon Philander claimed three wickets as South Africa bowled out India for 135 in their second innings, registering a 72-run victory on the fourth day to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match Test series.