India’s Test specialist batsman Cheteshwar Pujara turned out to be the second highest scorer in the first innings of the third match at the Wanderers against South Africa. He scored 50 runs off 179 balls with a strike rate of 27.93. But facing those 179 balls on that indefinable pitch was not at all a cakewalk for Pujara. Especially, the spells of Vernon Philander and his first eight overs.
After the end of first day’s play, Pujara admitted that the pitch was not easy to bat on. He said,
“This is one of the toughest pitch I have played on. It was difficult to score runs, especially in the first session. It was difficult to rotate the strike. There was a lot of bounce and seam movement, and there is enough pace now.”
“So we had to work hard to get runs. You won’t be able to bat without getting beaten on this track. I won’t say my knock was a struggle. You do get beaten and at the end of the day if you can score a fifty on this pitch, it is a good knock”, he added.
Pujara’s turn to bat against South Africa arrived pretty early. Opener KL Rahul departed on a duck after facing just 7 balls. The pitch provided ample bounce to the pace bowlers. Pujara had to wait for 54 balls to get his first run and when got there, the crowd cheered for him in unison.
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“Yes, you do notice it, because there was a lot of noise from the crowd (laughs). And even personally, obviously I wanted to get off the mark. I wasn’t seeing the number of balls I was facing, but yes, sometimes when there is a lot of noise you do notice it. Even if you are concentrating, sometimes you hear a voice from the crowd,” said Pujara.
As Pujara said, the pitch is going to get tougher as the game progresses. The Indian bowlers didn’t lose the grip as they bowled in an outstandingly and the struggle of Protean openers was visible too. South Africa to resume their inning at 6/1 on day 2. They are trailing by 181 runs.