‘First Class stint helping Agarwal’
Pune: Cheteshwar Pujara, at the nonstriker’s end, had the best place in the stadium to watch Mayank Agarwal’s flawless innings against South Africa on the first day of the second Test on Thursday.
The duo put on 138 runs for the second wicket, after which Mayank went on to score 108 before being dismissed by Kagiso Rabada. Pujara insisted that the opener’s maturity to play a knock like this comes from his experience in First Class cricket, where he has scored 4389 runs in 95 innings, averaging 49.31.
“He is an experienced player who has scored so many First Class runs, which has helped him a lot and when it comes to avoid being nervous in his 90s,” said Pujara while talking about the manner in which Mayank reached his ton. He smashed two sixes and one four to go from 87 to 103.
“He is someone who is fearless, he knows how to convert 50s into big scores and at the same time, once he goes past 100, he can score heavily as we saw in the last game. That habit has come from First Class cricket, so I didn’t have to tell him much. If there was an error in his batting, I would just tell him to play close to his body when his bat was going away. Apart from that, he is batting really well and you don’t have to guide him much,” said Pujara who was also dismissed by Rabada on 58.
There wasn’t much running between the wickets on Thursday with the Indian outfit scoring 174 runs out of 273 through boundaries. Pujara, who stuck nine fours and one six, felt that the pitch made scoring runs easier for the batsmen.
The middle-order batsman added that winning the toss and batting first will favour India as the wicket will undergo wear and tear. “We always thought we would bat first because in India we all know that batting in the fourth innings is never easy. We saw in the second session that there was enough turn for the spinners.”
Runs put on by Agarwal and for the second wicket — India’s first century stand for any wicket in two Tests played at MCAS Pune, surpassing the 50 for the fourth wicket between KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane against Australia in Feb 2017.