Mayank has become fearless: Pujara

Cheteshwar Pujara

Mayank Agarwal cracked a second successive Test century, reaching the landmark in a blaze on the opening day of the second Test against South Africa. Cheteshwar Pujara, who shared a 138-run second-wicket stand with the Bengalurean, called him a ‘fearless’ cricketer who is now brilliantly translating all his domestic prowess onto the international stage.

“He is an experienced player who has scored so many first-class runs which has helped him a lot and when it comes to being nervous in his 90s. He is someone who is fearless, he knows how to convert 50s into big scores and at the same time, once he goes past 100, he can score heavily as we saw in the last game,” said Pujara of Agarwal at Thursday’s press conference.

“That habit (of scoring boundaries in the nineties) has come from first-class cricket, so I didn’t have to tell him much. To be honest, we were just communicating whatever the gameplan was. 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. Apart from that, he is batting really well and you don’t have to guide him much. He is batting really well at the moment.”

Thursday’s engaging day saw South Africa pacer Kagiso Rabada dish out a fiery show. Apart from making the ball talk, he provided some lip-service as well, engaging in some banter.

When asked what was said in the middle by Rabada, Pujara said he didn’t pay attention to what the South African pacer was uttering.

“I can’t remember what he said. But he is someone who always likes to say something to the batsmen. As a batsman, I always know that he tries to disturb my concentration, not just him but any bowler who passes a comment as you sledge to disturb batsman’s concentration. So I try and avoid what they try and say.

“If you are in your zone, you hardly hear what they are trying to say as you are too focussed on what you want to do as a batsman. You always communicate with your partner what you want to do so when you are in your own zone, you miss out what they are saying.”

Although a large percentage of India’s runs on the opening day came in boundaries, Pujara said the intention was not to go bang-bang.

“On a first day, you want to bat normally and whenever there is a loose ball, you want to put that away. The pitch has enough pace and bounce. The first session, the outfield was slightly on the slower side, because of rain, it was heavy. In the second session, the outfield was quick, so if you put the ball away in gaps, it was going for fours. There was no such game plan to score runs in boundaries and sixes. Whenever there is a loose ball we will hit it for four but this outfield is such you get value for the shots.”

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