Team India Test skipper Virat Kohli and No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara have been a ‘bit of a headache’ for South Africa and the team will look to get them early on Day 3 of the series-deciding third Test, said batter Keegan Petersen in Cape Town on Wednesday (January 12).
India lost both their openers cheaply once again in the second innings but Pujara (9) and Kohli (14) thereafter took charge of the proceedings and saw through the second day to take their overall lead to 70 runs. “The key would be to pick up a few early wickets tomorrow morning… The two batting now have been a bit of a headache for us in the last couple of innings,” Petersen said in the media interaction after the end of Day Two’s proceedings.
In the first innings, Kohli top-scored with a well-crafted 79 off 201 balls, while Pujara gave a fine assistance with a 77-ball 43 to steady the proceedings after KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were dismissed early.
“He’s (Kohli) one of the best batters in the world and he’s showed that time and again. Yes, he will be the big wicket tomorrow and if we can get his wicket early, it will open up the game.”
Petersen, who hit 72 off 166 balls, was the top scorer for the home side as they were dismissed by India for 210, conceding a 13-run first innings lead. “We would have been happy if we overcame the deficit and got a bit of a lead. That was the plan coming into the game today,” he said.
‘Indian bowling attack most challenging in my career’
Petersen brought up his second fifty of the series on Wednesday against some top-class Indian pace bowling. The 28-year-old led South Africa’s fightback after Jasprit Bumrah removed the openers early in the series-deciding third Test.
“It’s (the Indian pace attack) extremely challenging. It’s the most challenging I’ve had in my whole career. You have to be focused and on your mark all the time or else they will expose you. They test you in terms of scoring, there’s not much of scoring opportunities. They have not given us much. They are arguably one of the best bowling attacks in the world. We knew that coming into the series, it’s been challenging, we just got to deal with it,” Petersen said.
On missing out on a century for the second time in the series, he said: “To be honest, it’s not lack of trying. It’s just eluding us at the moment. Yes, I got close but let the team down by not getting there. But I think it will come eventually.”