Pune, Oct 10 (IANS) Opener Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara struck half centuries as India reached 168/2 at Tea on Day 1 of the second Test against South Africa here on Thursday.
Pujara, who got to his second consecutive fifty in 107 balls, was just starting to look good as he smashed left arm spinner Senuran Muthusamy for a six and later hit Keshav Maharaj for two fours in one over before Kagiso Rabada had him caught by Faf skipper du Plessis at first slip after he had punched the bowler off his back foot for a silken four in front of point.
Pujara, who had scored 81 in the second innings of the first Test, was dismissed for 58 from 112 balls with the help of nine fours and a six.
Skipper Virat Kohli joined Agarwal in the middle and did not open in account facing four balls when Tea was called.
Agarwal, who notched up his maiden double hundred in the last Test, looked good for a hundred as he remained not out on 86 off 171 deliveries (15×4).
The pair of Agarwal and Pujara shared a 138-run stand for the first wicket to steady the ship after India lost Rohit Sharma (14) early as the star of the first Test became victim of Rabada’s peach of a delivery.
The delivery, pitching on the off-stump line, moved away just a little bit to take the outside edge of Rohit’s bat and Quinton de Kock took an easy catch.
Pujara then joined forces with Agarwal and made sure India didn’t lose any further wickets till the end of the session.
After seeing off some good overs from the visitors, both the Indian batsmen started feeling a lot more comfortable and played their shots to give some tension to du Plessis.
Earlier, Kohli didn’t shy away from putting his batters face a tricky session on a damp surface at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium.
India left out Hanuma Vihari, much to the surprise of many after the No.6 batsman scored heavily in the West Indies just before this series.
Pacer Umesh Yadav was drafted in to add more teeth to the attack which has Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami besides the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Brief scores: India 168/2 (Mayank Agarwal 86 batting, Cheteshwar Pujara 58; Kagiso Rabada 2/39)