Rustenburg – India A captain Cheteshwar Pujara scored his 21st First-Class century to give his side a solid platform on day one of the first unofficial Test against South Africa A (SA A) at Olympia Park in Rustenburg on Saturday. Pujara shared a 176-run third-wicket partnership with Rohit Sharma (70 not out), before he was bowled by an in-swinging delivery from Wayne Parnell six overs before the close of play.
“Initially the wicket was doing a bit and when I went in to bat the off-spinner was turning the ball. It was important to stay at the crease and to avoid losing more wickets,” said Pujara.
“It was difficult to score at the beginning but once I was set I could play my shots.”
The SA A bowlers were consistent throughout the day, and were unfortunate not to be rewarded in slow and turning conditions after being sent in to bowl. They built up the pressure with disciplined bowling, and restricted the visitors to less than three runs an over for two out of three sessions of the day.
SA A Coach, Vincent Barnes was satisfied with the performance from his bowlers.
“I thought we stuck to our guns for probably three-quarters of the day. We kept them quiet. It was a strange type of wicket, there wasn't much in it for the bowlers. There was also a period where we got a bit impatient and started looking for wickets.
“They (India A) played and left well, allowed themselves time to get in before they played risky shots and they capitalised against the older ball.”
Simon Harmer(1/88), Andrew Birch (1/42) and Wayne Parnell (1/47) were the wicket-takers, accounting for the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan (11), Murali Vijay (44) and the centurion Pujara (140) respectively.
The attack will be hoping to clean up the rest of the order with the aid of a beaming new ball on day two.
“It will be important for us to get stuck in with a couple of early wickets,” Barnes added. “We have to be patient; it's not a wicket where you should try to do too many things, even though the ball is new.” – Sapa