Pujara displayed solid composure on Day 4 at Vizag.
South Africa had batted themselves into a pretty good position at the beginning of day four that for India to force a result, the scoring rate had to be on the quicker side. After Mayank Agarwal perished early to Keshav Maharaj, Cheteshwar Pujara joined Rohit Sharma in the middle and run scoring seemed to be the sole responsibility of Rohit.
Pujara seemed stuck in his bubble as South Africa tied him down with a short mid-wicket and short mid-on and runs were hard to come by for the no.3 batsman. After his first 58 balls, Pujara had made just eight runs much to India's dismay.
Often accused for not showing intent at the crease by the skipper and coach, Pujara was once dropped from the Test side after making a 159-ball 46 against the West Indies in 2016. In South Africa last year, he faced a record 53 balls before getting off the mark, the most by any top order batsman since 2001. He ended up making 50 off 179 balls and once again the intent question was thrown at Pujara.
Here at Vizag, though, the scoring had to be quick and the no.3 seemed to be pegging back India's efforts to up the ante and set up a declaration by close of play. In the 26th over, Pujara nudged Dane Piedt to the off-side and sent Rohit, who was hurrying across for a single, back.
A frustrated Rohit was heard abusing Pujara over the stump mic.
"Pujji, bhaag bh*****hod" - Rohit was heard telling Pujara.
Here it is: pic.twitter.com/YbLChp5975
— Peeyush Sharma (@peeyushsharmaa) October 5, 2019
Twitter erupted with trolls as soon as the voice was heard over the stump mic. Ben Stokes, whose name rhymes with the cuss word, tweeted about the mantle being passed over from Kohli to Rohit.
This time it’s Rohit not Virat....if you know you know 😂
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) October 5, 2019
When rohit sharma says "Pujjj bhaag bc" pic.twitter.com/rtGIt3AzmM
— Prayag (@Prayagcasm) October 5, 2019
Waiting for Rohit Sharma to say Shastri bhaag bc and watching shastri leaving indian team.
— Rishabh Srivastava (@AskRishabh) October 5, 2019
Rohit Sharma - Pujji bhaag BC.
Everyone in dressing room looking at Virat Kohli : pic.twitter.com/Tj6muOAVMD
— ANKUR SINGH (@ankur_singh_29) October 5, 2019
The abuse seemed to turn a switch on in Pujara too. The Indian middle-order batsman was suddenly stepping out to hit the spinners and driving and clicking with more convinction than before. From 8 off 58, Pujara made 40 in the next 29 balls he faced in the innings, clearly appearing to step up after Rohit egged him on, albeit in questionable fashion.
Pujara is on fire now. Rohit Sharma knows how to bring best of any batsman. Best captain for a reason. #INDvsSA
— ANSHUMAN🚩 (@AvengerReturns) October 5, 2019
Pujara ended the innings making 81 in 143 balls at a strike rate of 54.74 and even hit two sixes in his innings. Now we know how Rohit gets the best out of his team at Mumbai Indians!
Featured image courtesy: AFP/ Noah Saleem