First Test in post Kohli, Pujara pass -Tentulkar era
Two outstanding centuries scored by Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first Test against one of the most fearsome fast bowling attacks in the world, has set the tone for Team India, who have plenty of away series’ lined up in the near future where the conditions would be no different.
After losing two early wickets within 30 runs on day one of the Johannesburg Test, when Kohli came in to bat, he had a herculean task — to fill the void left by batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar at number 4. The confident 25-year-old, who has a knack of taking up challenges, once again proved his mettle under adverse conditions, and went on to score a ton. It was the same pitch where no other Indian batsman managed to cross the 30-run mark, apart from Ajikya Rahane who scored 47 runs in the first innings.
Kohli’s 119-run innings off 181 balls, laced with 18 boundaries, would have made even Sachin Tendulkar proud. His century on first day of the Test not only took India to a comfortable position (255/5), but also gave the depleted team a much-needed confidence. Later in the Test, India took a psychological lead of 36 runs in the first innings but the second Indian innings was even more crucial for the visitors. And this time it was Cheteshwar Pujara — the man trying to fill in the big boots of Rahul Dravid — who took the responsibility on his shoulders and put a huge price tag on his wicket. He played a crucial knock of 153 runs and along with Kohli, stitched a massive 222-run partnership for the third wicket to take India to a commanding position. The best part about that partnership was they complemented each other well, unlike the first innings, where Kohli’s wrong call led to Pujara being run-out. Pujara was recently named the ‘ICC’s emerging cricketer of 2013’ and he justified and celebrated this tag with a big hundred.
After losing their first ODI series of the year 2-0 against South Africa, the Indian batsmen had a real challenge up front – to deal with the same fast bowling attack of Steyn & Co. in the longest format of the game, that too in the post-Tendulkar era.