Rustenburg (South Africa), Aug 18: Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara hit a scintillating 140 as India A reached 281 for three against South Africa A at stumps on the opening day of the first unofficial Test here on Saturday (August 17).
Pujara cracked 17 fours in his 205-ball innings and forged a 176-run partnership with Rohit Sharma (70) for the third wicket to put India A in a solid position in the four-day match. Pujara, who won the toss and elected to bat, also added 66 runs for the second wicket with opener Murali Vijay (44) at Olympia Park here.
The Saurashtra batsman was ably supported by Sharma, whose unbeaten 159-ball innings was studded with eight fours and a six. At stumps, Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane (11) were at the crease. Earlier, opener Shikhar Dhawan (11) took time to see off the initial phase but the Delhi batsman could not stay longer at the crease, getting dismissed by Simon Harmer.
Harmer induced a edge from the left-handed batsman to Reeza Hendricks at first slip. Dhawan had just one six to show in his 46-ball innings. Vijay, however, looked in good touch right from the beginning and along with Pujara steadied the ship after the fall of Dhawan. He was dismissed by Andrew Birch when he had him caught by Harmer at second slip in the 38th over.
His 115-ball innings was laced with six fours and a six. Pujara and Sharma then joined hands and kept their opposition busy, picking up singles and twos and also put away the bad balls for boundaries. The duo made the South Africa A bowlers toil hard and took India A to 147 for two at tea.
After the break, Pujara and Sharma kept the scoreboard ticking and had no problem in getting boundaries. Both the batsmen picked up seven boundaries each and scored 123 runs between them. Pujara was finally dismissed when he played and missed a delivery from Wayne Parnell in the 84th over as India A slipped to 270 for three.