Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq reckons the second-wicket partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma on Day 3 of the Oval Test put India in a commanding position. Inzamam singled out Pujara for special praise, pointing out that he took on the England bowlers.
Pujara and Rohit featured in a 153-run stand for the second wicket on Saturday as India took control of the Oval Test. India ended the day at 270 for 3, having gained a crucial lead of 171 runs.
According to Inzamam, while Rohit was outstanding, Pujara’s positive innings ensured England did not put the pressure back on India after KL Rahul’s dismissal for 46.
The former Pakistan skipper said:
“When the openers were batting, England were still able to trouble them on and off with some good deliveries. But Cheteshwar Pujara came in and straightaway put England on the back foot. He scored his fifty at a strike rate of 60-65. Pujara defended the good balls but ensured that the loose balls were punished.”
Inzamam added that the ball had stopped swinging by the time Pujara came into bat and the India no.3 took full advantage of the same. He explained:
“By the time the Pujara-Rohit partnership began, the ball had stopped swinging for England. They looked frustrated and started spraying the ball around. This partnership was key because they scored at a quick pace and demoralized England. It is very important to attack the opposition. This wasn’t happening before as Pujara was only scoring 20 runs off 60 balls. But on Saturday, he batted with a lot more purpose.”
Both Rohit and Pujara fell in the first over after England took the second new ball. While Rohit miscued an attempted pull off Ollie Robinson, Pujara edged an incoming delivery behind the wickets.
India must look to score at six runs an over: Inzamam
Admitting that India are in the driver’s seat, Inzamam added the visitors must score at a quick pace on Day 4 to put England under further pressure.
“I think the match is now in India’s grip. They already have a 171-run lead. The ball has started spinning. Both Joe Root and Moeen Ali were getting the ball to turn. If India can bat two more sessions on Sunday, they will be in firm control. But India will need to go on the charge after the first session. Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli’s partnership would be crucial. After the ball get slightly old, they must look to score at six runs an over.”
India will resume Day 4 of The Oval Test with Kohli unbeaten on 22 and Jadeja batting on 9.
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