It had been a tough day for India with the bat in Cape Town on Saturday. The Virat Kohli-led side had bowled out South Africa for 286 runs on the first day of the first Test, but had lost 3 important wickets of Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and the skipper late in the day. Coming in to bat on the second day, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara had the job on themselves to rescue the side. But while Sharma got out in the first session at a meagre score of 11, his partner departed in the first over after Lunch as he became a victim to a brilliant outswinger from Vernon Philander.
Pujara, who had been leaving all the deliveries that were even slightly outside off stumps early in the day, touched a wrong one with the bat, giving an easy catch behind the wickets to South African captain Faf du Plessis. Speaking on his dismissal at the press conference, the 29-year old agreed he made a mistake. “To be honest, I should have left the ball (after Tea) alone. It was outside the off-stump. I made a mistake and got out. It deviated a little more than what I expected but at the same time I made the mistake and I had to pay the price for it,” he said.
Speaking on the South African bowling attack, Pujara said that it is one of the best in the world at the moment. “This is one of the best attacks obviously. All of their bowlers have always done well, especially in South Africa. They know which areas to bowl in,” he said.
“When I bat, I don’t look at the bowler and the bowling line-up, I try and look at the ball, try and keep it simple. As a batsman I would want to concentrate on what I would like to do rather than thinking whether they have the best bowlers in the world. It hardly matters if you score runs,” he added.
Pujara also went on to applaud Hardik Pandya who scored a brisk 93 runs to take save India some embarrassment after they were reeling at 93/7. “Everyone believed he (Pandya) can play such an innings and he played his shots and the environment in the dressing room became quite positive. Those runs were very important for the team and they kept us in the game,” he said.
Pujara added that Pandya’s allround performance kept India in the game. “If he hadn’t scored those runs, we would have been in trouble. So I think he kept us in the game and got us two wickets also at the end of day’s play. So his performance was outstanding,” the right-hand batsman said.
India managed to reach 209 on the back of Pandya’s innings. The right-hand bowler also two wickets later in the day and sent both South African openers back to the pavilion. Proteas reached 65/2 at stumps, leading India by 142 runs.