After a hard-fought day of Test cricket in Johannesburg, Cheteshwar Pujara said Indian bowlers can bowl better than South Africans. The hosts might not like this comment. Former Proteas batsman Jonty Rhodes has responded to it.
On the first day of the third Test at The Wanderers on Wednesday (January 24), India were bowled out for 187. Pujara and captain Virat Kohli hit half centuries. At stumps, the Proteas were 6/1.
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After the day's play, speaking to cricketer-turned-commentator Shaun Pollock, Pujara said it was a tough wicket to bat on and 187 was equal to 300.
"It (187) is as good as scoring 300 on any normal pitch. Our bowlers are used to bowling better lengths than what South Africans are used to. If you bowl in the right areas and if you pitch the ball in the right length, it is very difficult to play on this wicket. Our bowlers are used to bowling in that area," the right-hander said on Sony TEN1 TV.
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In the Sony channel's studio in Mumbai, former cricketers Murali Kartik and Rhodes discussed about the match with well known journalist and commentator Harsha Bhogle. Rhodes, who played 52 Tests and 245 ODIs, is part of the commentary panel for the series.
Harsha, referring to Pujara's comments, said, "In his own gentle way, he (Pujara) also took a dig at South Africa, saying our bowlers bowled better lines, lengths."
To this, Rhodes responded, "That is the same guy that said they will be happy to chase 350 in the last innings in Cape Town. Was it not? Just check. I remember his interview. I am just checking. He is talking about 300 (in Johannesburg). It was a good effort."
Of course, all this was a light-hearted chat.
This is what Pujara had said during the first Test in Cape Town, "To be honest, we don't want to chase too many runs but at the same time, the way the wicket is behaving, I think, anywhere around 350 will be chaseable. In the first innings, the top order obviously didn't click but in the second innings I think we will put up a better show and if we continue to bat well, we can definitely get more than 350."
India were set a target of 209 and were bowled out for 135, losing the Test by 72 runs. They were defeated in the second game too, by 135 runs as they failed to chase 287. It has been a tough series for the visitors' batsmen, barring skipper Kohli.
South Africa have already won the Freedom Test series with an unassailable 2-0 lead.