India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored 58 runs in the second Test against South Africa on Thursday, has praised opener Mayank Agarwal, as he scored a second consecutive century in the Test match.
"He is an experienced player. He scored so many first-class runs, which has helped him a lot. When it comes to being nervous 90s, I think he is someone who is fearless. Since he has scored so many first-class tons, he knows how to convert his fifties into a big score," Pujara told reporters in the post-match conference.
The 28-year-old opener has played five Test matches for India. He played 55 matches in the first-class career in which he scored 7,322 runs, including nine hundred and 25 half-centuries. In the first Test of the series, Agarwal scored a double-ton.
India won the toss and opted to bat first against the Proteas. Agarwal and Rohit Sharma opened the innings for India. The team had a shattering start as the centurion (Sharma) from the first Test was sent back to the pavilion after scoring just 14 runs.
Mayank and Cheteshwar Pujara stitched a 138-run partnership for the second wicket. Pujara, 58, fell soon after smashing his fifty in the 51st over and India was reduced to 163/2.
"At the same time, once he goes past hundred as we saw in the last game he can score heavily so that habit has come from first-class cricket so I did not have to tell him much. To be honest and we were just communicating about what the game plan was," he said.
"At times, 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. but apart from that his batting really well and I do not have to guide him much as he has a lot of experience," Pujara said.
After Pujara's dismissal, Virat Kohli joined Agarwal in the middle and built a 35-run stand for the third wicket. Agarwal (108) scored the second ton of his career but was soon dismissed by Kagiso Rabada. Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane built an unbeaten stand of 75 runs for the fourth wicket. Kohli is batting on 63 runs while Rahane is at a score of 18 runs. For South Africa, Rabada bagged all the three wickets.
South Africa pacer Anrich Nortje who is playing his debut Test match has used too many short length balls to the Indian batsmen and he consistently bowled on the quick pace of more than 140kmph.
Speaking about him, Pujara said: "Well! sometimes when it comes to short deliveries sometime it can give you an advantage as a batting team because if you try and use it too often the bowler especially in this weather gets tired."
"At the same time, we handled it well. He is a good bowler. It is too early to pass on a lot of comments on the way he has been bowling. But he has pace and as we see his more then I will be able to make more comments about his bowling," he added.
The 31-year-old thought that pitch would support spin in the first session but later on it turned a bit.
"Especially early on this pitch, I felt that there was not enough spin so we thought that in the first session it was important to score as many runs as possible against spinners. Later on, there was a little bit of turn in the second session so we have to be a little careful but yes there was a game plan that early on when there is not much spin for the spinners- try and score as many runs as possible," Pujara said.
India will resume their innings from 273/3 on day two of the Test tomorrow. The Indian side had a 1-0 lead in the three-match series which is a part of the ICC World Test Championship (WTC).
( With inputs from ANI )