After scoring a fighting half century, Cheteshwar Pujara has called the Wanderers pitch as one of the toughest pitches he has played on in his career. Calling India's score of 187 as "fine", he hoped that Indian bowlers would perform well on Day 2 and restrict South Africa to below 150 runs.
On the first day of the third Test of the India-South Africa series in Johannesburg, Pujara showed once again why he considered as a Test specialist in the cricketing world. On the bouncy and fast track at Wanderers, he batted for 261 minutes and showed his patience against South Africa’s pace attack. The Indian batsman took 179 balls to complete his half-century including 157 dot balls. Along with Pujara, it was Indian skipper Virat Kohli who held the strike from the other end to take India to the respectable score after the scoreboard show 13/2 in 9 overs. They both build a much-needed 84 runs partnership for the visitors. The nature of the pitch can be understood from Pujara’s innings who took 54 balls to open his account.
"This is one of the toughest pitches I've played on. And as we saw, it was difficult to score some runs, especially in the first session. It was difficult to rotate the strike. It has a lot of bounce, it has seam movement. And there is enough pace now. So we had to work hard to score runs, but the total we have, I think it is as good as scoring 300 on any wicket. As I said, this is one of the toughest pitches I have played on, so you need to take your time and you need to get used to the bounce and lateral movement,” Pujara said as quoted by Cricketnext.
India included Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane in the place of Ravichandran Aswin and Rohit Sharma and after winning the toss Kohli decided to bat first. But considering the rain and overcast conditions, it was expected that toss winner will elect to bowl first but Pujara supported his skipper’s decision.
"I think as the game progresses, we are very sure that this wicket will be difficult to bat on. As we saw even in the later stages today, the cracks are opening up and a couple of balls deviated a lot. I mean, I haven't seen deviation like that before. As the game progresses I think this wicket will have variable bounce and cracks will open up, so it will be difficult to bat on. That's the reason we chose to bat first," he said.
According to Pujara, on this track, the score of 187 looking as good as 300 and now he expecting the Indian bowlers to continue their momentum which they showed in the last two games. India got a good start, thanks to Bhuvneshwar who got the scalp of Aiden Markram before the end of the Day 1 game.
"As we saw, we got a wicket, and if we bowl well, I think we'll get them out. I would say it was a good day for us. So if we bowl well I think we have a very good chance, and I am very hopeful that we have enough runs on this wicket. We would like to restrict them to below 150," Pujara said.