Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara (Credits: Twitter)

Cheteshwar Pujara’s stint in South Africa started on a disappointing note on Sunday as the senior India batter recorded a golden duck in the Boxing Day Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion. In an attempt to play defensively to  Lungi Ngidi’s delivery that shaped back in, Cheteshwar Pujara edged it to Keegan Petersen at the short leg, handing India two successive blows in the second session.

The 33-year-old Cheteshwar Pujara registered his second golden duck in Test cricket and also walked off with an unwanted record under his belt. Known for his old-school approach and immaculate defense, Cheteshwar Pujara now has the most ducks for India at the No. 3 position in the longest format of the sport. He went past Dilip Vengsarkar’s tally of eight ducks.

Dilip Vengsarkar
Dilip Vengsarkar (file photo)

Cheteshwar Pujara Has Not Scored A Hundred Since January 2019 As Former Pacer Ajit Agarkar Rued His Early Dismissal Besides Praising Lungi Ngidi

The golden duck has also piled some pressure on Cheteshwar Pujara, who has not scored a hundred since January 2019. The right-handed batter made just 95 runs in the recent Test series against New Zealand but was given a long rope with Ajinkya Rahane for the Test series opener in South Africa.

Speaking on Cheteshwar Pujara’s struggles with the bat, former India pacer Ajit Agarkar said that things would have been a bit different if the experienced batsman had spent some time at the crease. He also praised Lungi Ngidi for revising his bowling approach after lunch.

Cheteshwar Pujara
Cheteshwar Pujara[photo: Twitter]

“Had Pujara spent some time in the middle, things would have been easier for him. But good captaincy and bowling by the opposition. Ngidi changed his approach. Ngidi was trying to bowl outswing at the start and the line was also outside off.

“In this spell, he bowled deliveries that nipped in and trouble the batters. Those two wickets of Mayank and Pujara were crucial for South Africa. India would have been in a commanding position if the opening stand wasn’t broken,” said Ajit Agarkar on Star Sports.

While India lost two quick wickets, KL Rahul looked steady at the other end. He notched up his 12th Test half-century and added an 82 run partnership with skipper Virat Kohli, who fell after scoring 35.

India lost Cheteshwar Pujara for a rare golden duck before the fourth-wicket stand between KL Rahul and Virat Kohli revived India once again with an 82-run stand where the 33-year-old Indian skipper scored 35 before falling to Lungi Ngidi as his century drought continued in international cricket.

KL Rahul Hits A Ton As India Are In A Commanding Position On Day 1 Of 1st Test

Earlier, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who are close friends and play for Karnataka together, stitched a century stand for the opening wicket to put the visitors in challenging conditions, putting the visitors in control during the first session.

KL Rahul after his century in Centurion. Photo- AFP
KL Rahul after his century in Centurion. Photo- AFP

Despite Virat Kohli’s dismissal, India finished the opening day at a score of 272/3, with opener KL Rahul scoring an unbeaten 122 to power the side to a strong position. India made a perfect start to the opening Test at the SuperSport park with the opening pair of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal scoring a 117-run stand.

Mayank Agarwal fell to Lungi Ngidi for a well-made 60 runs which included 8 fours to his name. Cheteshwar Pujara followed shortly for a golden duck. KL Rahul completed his century in 218 balls and at the end of the first day, remained unbeaten on 122 runs in 248 balls with 17 fours and 1 six to his name.

Cheteshwar Pujara averages 28.58 from 14 Tests in 2021. Cheteshwar Pujara managed 668 runs in 14 Tests (25 innings) in 2021. He has 11 ducks in 93 Tests and is under intense scrutiny for poor form alongside Ajinkya Rahane who fared slightly better in the 1st Test remaining unbeaten on 40 at end of Day 1. Day 2 was entirely washed off due to rain.