‘First Class stint help­ing Agar­wal’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Sport - Kabeer. [email protected] times­group.com

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.

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