January 20, 2022

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

The World Live Breaking News Coverage & Updates IN ENGLISH

Fresh oxygen to Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane’s careers

3 min read
Fresh oxygen to Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane’s careers
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Fresh oxygen to Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane’s careers

It was make-or-break time for Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara. They knew a failure in the second innings of the second Test at the Bullring would lead to serious question marks over the future of their international careers. Additionally, India too, would find themselves in a vulnerable position, especially after losing openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal early.
But it was their counter-attacking approach, both on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, that helped them get their respective half-centuries. They put up 111 runs for the third wicket that gave India the platform to push for a victory.
It’s true that the roller had its effect in the first hour and the pitch wasn’t playing up as much as was the case in the first two days. But it takes nothing away from the fact that there was an element of fearless, counter-attacking approach about Pujara and Rahane’s approach that helped India score quickly on Day 3 and put the pressure right back on South Africa.
“When you are under pressure, it’s better to not get into a shell. . . you should counter-attack. On a pitch like this, one ball will have your name written on it, therefore it makes no sense to just try and survive. It’s good that Rahane and Pujara understood that,” former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth told TOI.

Fresh oxygen to Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane’s careers

After struggling against the bounce of the South African pacers in the first innings, both looked to play the cut which paid rich dividends. “That’s always the shot to play on a pitch like this. Gundappa Viswanath was a master of that shot and that’s why he got those crucial runs on hard and bouncy tracks,” Srikkanth said.
The one good thing about both Rahane and Pujara was that they were not uptight. Having the experience of playing for so long, they exuded confidence that had the South African bowlers in a bit of a quandary. While the full-pitched ball was getting driven, the cut and the pull against the short ball made them struggle for the right length.
For a while, the two raised visions of that 222-run counter-attacking partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and Mohammed Azharuddin in Cape Town in the New Year Test of 1997. From being 5-58, Tendulkar and Azhar had launched a vicious attack on Allan Donald & Co, both scoring centuries in the process, even though the Test couldn’t be saved.
“In that Test, the team was under pressure after losing the first Test badly. But Sachin and Azhar themselves were not under scrutiny. Here Rahane and Pujara were playing to save their careers, but the team was in a comparatively better position,” WV Raman, who played that Test match, analysed.
What pleased Raman about Pujara’s approach on Wednesday was the fact that he was looking for runs. “For a while he had stopped looking for runs at the start and his only intention had been to defend. In this innings, he didn’t do that and looked for scoring options,” Raman added.
The two would have liked to carry on and convert their 50s into centuries. But on a pitch that had so much in it for pacers, this partnership should give the veteran duo the necessary oxygen to fight on for a while longer.

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