Team India was in a lot of trouble in the first Test in Cape Town after being reduced to 76/5 in reply to 286 by the hosts. When the men in blue were in danger of being bowled out before achieving the 3-figure mark, India’s latest sensation Hardik Pandya stood up and went on the counter-attack against the lethal bowling of South Africa.
When Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined Pandya in the middle, India were tottering at 92/7 but the 23-year-old did what he knows best. He went on the charge and smacked boundaries after boundaries. While the other batsmen looked helpless against the deadly quartet of Steyn, Philander, Morkel and Rabada, Pandya handled them quite well and bailed the side out of an embarrassing situation.
When the 50-run partnership between him and Bhuvneshwar was up, the latter had contributed for just 2 runs. The hard-hitting of Pandya brought confidence to Bhuvneshwar as well and he too contributed to India’s resurrection. The duo added 99 runs for the 8th wicket before Bhuvneshwar got out for 25.
Hardika Pandya carried on to make 93 runs before he was bombarded by a barrage of short deliveries from Kagiso Rabada. After fighting with a number of bumpers, he finally edged one to the keeper and had to walk back for 93 runs off 95 balls. His knock included 14 fours and a six that took India to 209 at the end of the innings which meant the visitors conceded a lead of 77 runs that could have been a lot more had it not been for Pandya’s efforts.
Pujara and Rabada hailed Pandya
Cheteshwar Pujara, who played a fighting knock of 26 off 92 balls, had a few words of appreciation for Pandya. “He batted really well and showed a lot of character. He hasn’t played many Test matches away from home but this is the kind of innings (he played) we expected it from him if he played in the playing XI. I think if someone who is very promising, he is batting well, bowling well, it makes a lot of difference to the team because when you have a very good all-rounder, it balances your team combination. I hope he continues with this,” said Pujara in the post-match conference.
South Africa’s pacer Rabada also praised Hardik Pandya for his aggressive approach. “Looking at a player like him, he likes to play his natural game by playing shots. Sometimes that can put you on the backfoot or sometimes that can pay off for the bowling side. So it’s a bit of a gamble, but if he chooses to play that way and it works for him then great. We need to find a way to counter him,” stated Rabada.