Cheteshwar Pujara’s marathon struggle gets him half-century vs South Africa
Cheteshwar Pujara struggled to score a half-century on Wednesday after he took 54 deliveries to get off the mark against South Africa at Wanderers.
Cheteshwar Pujara scored a vigilant 179-ball fifty before Andile Phehlukwayo snared his wicket to help South Africa keep chipping away at India’s batting. Pujara’s innings allowed India to stay on course of posting a respectable first innings total after they elected to bat on a pitch that aided seam and bounce. Pujara had to come out in only the fourth over of the day after KL Rahul was done in by Vernon Philander’s swing. (India v South Africa blog | Scorecard)
But Pujara took 54 deliveries to open his account after surviving an early leg-before appeal that was even reviewed by Faf du Plessis. South Africa may have missed out on one review when Pujara was trapped leg-before by Lungi Ngidi but no one appealed.
All this time, India’s scoring wasn’t hampered with captain Virat Kohli going hammer and tongs from the other end. Pujara finally scored his run by tapping Ngidi behind of square. Still, it was monumental struggle for Pujara to just stay put as the South Africa seamers repeatedly opened him up and lured him into shots that just weren’t there.
With two consecutive boundaries off Vernon Philander, through the backward point and then through covers, Pujara showed he too could attack. But those phases were too few and far between and sometimes it felt like the innings was stagnating because of the lack of singles.
Pujara absorbed everything thrown at him after Kohli and Rahane were dismissed. He was even looking desperate when he slashed Philander over the slip cordon but very soon regained composure to grind away at the South African bowling.
Four boundaries off Lungi Ngidi, including one class drive through the covers, had indicated Pujara had finally arrived to the scene after batting more than five hours but it was the unknown Phehlukwayo who caught him unaware.
Pujara did score a boundary off Phehlukwayo by glancing him fine but the seamer then bounced back with a delivery that left Pujara undecided whether to leave or go for it. On a quick Wanderers pitch, that is enough time for the ball to get edged.