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Regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 July 2024

South Africa will find it tough: Pujara

India batted 67 overs in their second innings to declare at 323 for 4

Our Bureau & Agencies Calcutta Published 05.10.19, 07:22 PM
Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates after his half-century on Saturday.

Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates after his half-century on Saturday. (PTI)

Cheteshwar Pujara on Saturday said that Indian team timed their second innings declaration in such a manner that they didn’t have to start with a soft semi new-ball on the fifth day of their first Test against South Africa.

India batted 67 overs in their second innings to declare at 323 for 4, leaving South Africa with a near-impossible chase of 395 with an hour on fourth day and full fifth day for batting.

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South Africa finished at 11 for one in nine overs bowled in second innings.

Asked if the timing of declaration was right, Pujara said: “It was. We did not want to bowl too many overs because we wanted to keep the ball hard for start of Day V. You don’t want to end up bowling too many overs and once the ball gets soft, it gets slightly easier to bat.

“We picked up a crucial wicket (Dean Elgar). So as a team, we are happy with the way things went today,” said Pujara, who scored a crucial 81 and shared a 169-run stand with twin centurion Rohit Sharma.

On Saturday, Rohit became the first-ever batsman to score centuries in each innings on debut as a Test opener. Rohit, who had scored 176 in his first innings as a Test opener, made 127 off 149 balls on the fourth day. Rohit also became the sixth Indian to score a hundred in both innings a Test.

Pujara also felt that it won’t be easy for South Africa to bat on a fifth day track.

“Hopefully, on Day V, this pitch wouldn’t be easy to bat on and there will be a little more assistance for spinners. We have already seen that the pitch offers variable bounce, so the fast bowlers will also come into play… There is enough rough for spinners and the cracks will open up bit more on the final day,” India’s ever-dependable No. 3 said.

Pujara is expecting Ravindra Jadeja to exploit the roughs as certain deliveries have either kicked up or stayed low from the spots created.

“There will be more bounce for the spinners, from the rough. If we see the variable bounce for Jaddu (Jadeja) in that delivery against Elgar, I think the ball hit the crack and kept little low. So if there is variable bounce, I think the spinners will enjoy hitting the ball on the cracks.” “But fast bowlers will be difficult to play on these cracks,” said Pujara.

Pujara changed gears after the first drinks break of the afternoon session. He had made eight runs off his first 62 balls before unleashing an all-out attack on the struggling South African spinners. His 148 ball-81 comprised 13 fours and two sixes.

On a pitch where Rohit batted with ease, the more conventional Pujara, found it difficult to score quickly. “It was a difficult pitch to bat on. It was not easy to rotate the strike and it was not easy to time the ball well and especially with my game and the kind of shots that I play, I was finding it little difficult early on. I knew that once I was set, I will able to know the pace of the pitch.

“Once I knew that (pace of the pitch), I actually changed by point of impact little later on. Yes, earlier on it was bit difficult but once I realised that, I played a few shots and obviously with the same technique.”

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