‘Enough rough in the surface for spinners’, says Pujara as India chase opening win

Written by Abhishek Patil

Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored 81 and forged a brisk 169-run second-wicket stand with Rohit Sharma on the fourth day, feels that the pitch will do enough on the final day for the bowlers to pick up the nine remaining South African wickets.

Wickets have been hard to come by on the Visakhapatnam pitch on the first four days, but Pujara expects that to change on the final day and has backed his side’s bowlers to secure the win for India.

India declared and inserted South Africa for nine overs before bad light prematurely ended play yet again, courtesy quick runs from Rohit Sharma, who struck his second century in his first match as a Test opener, and Pujara. As reward, they got the wicket of Dean Elgar late in the day – an especially crucial wicket, as the opening batsman had scored 160 in South Africa’s first innings.

Elgar was trapped lbw by Ravindra Jadeja, who got one to keep straight and a touch low.

“Hopefully, on day five, this pitch wouldn’t be easy to bat on and there will be a little more assistance for spinners,” Pujara said. “We have already seen that the pitch offers variable bounce, so the fast bowlers will also come into play… There is enough rough for spinners and the cracks will open up bit more on the final day.

“There will be more bounce for the spinners from the rough. If we see the variable bounce for Jaddu (Jadeja) in that delivery against Elgar, I think the ball hit the crack and kept little low. So if there is variable bounce, I think the spinners will enjoy pitching the ball on the cracks.”

India declared their second innings at 323/4, after getting ahead by 394 runs. Pujara explained that India didn’t want to bowl too many overs on the fourth day as they wanted to keep the ball fresh for the start of the fifth day.

“It was [the right time to declare]. We did not want to bowl too many overs because we wanted to keep the ball hard for start of day five. You don’t want to end up bowling too many overs, and once the ball gets soft, it gets slightly easier to bat. We picked up a crucial wicket. So as a team, we are happy with the way things went today.”

India have won each of their Test matches since the start of the ICC World Test Championship, and a win against South Africa will help them add forty more points to their table-topping tally of 120.

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Abhishek Patil