January 24, 2018 / 4:47 PM / a year ago

Cricket: Patient Pujara proud of effort on 'tough' Wanderers pitch

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara said his side’s first innings 187 was “like scoring 300 on any normal pitch” and puts them on top after the opening day of the third and final test against South Africa on Wednesday.

Cricket - India v South Africa - Third Test match - The Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa - January 24, 2018. India’s Virat Kohli plays a shot off the bowling of South Africa’s Vernon Philander. REUTERS/James Oatway

South Africa are six for one in reply to India’s modest total and face a difficult day on Thursday as they look to build a first innings lead at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

Batting at number three, Pujara took 54 balls to get off the mark as South Africa’s all-seam attack exploited a grassy pitch after India had won the toss and elected to bat.

He was eventually out for a battling 50 from 179 deliveries, tamely edging Andile Phehlukwayo to South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, but he was pleased with both his and the team’s batting efforts.

“It was one of the toughest pitches I have batted on and I really had to work hard to score some runs,” he told SuperSport after the close of play.

“To be honest, I think we batted well. With the number of runs we have on the board, we think we can bowl them out (for less).”

The pitch, which offered both bounce and prodigious lateral movement, is likely to deteriorate as it bakes under the Highveld sun for a few days, posing an even greater challenge for a South African side that has to bat last.

“There was a lot of deviation ... as the game progresses it will get harder to bat on,” Pujara said.

“I never felt in on this pitch. If we bowl well, we have a very good chance. It’s as good as scoring 300 on any normal pitch. Our bowlers are used to bowling better lengths than the South Africans did.”

The home side have already claimed the series with an unassailable 2-0 lead after wins in Cape Town and Pretoria but can seal a first clean-sweep against India if they win at The Wanderers.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by David Goodman

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