Pujara & Rahane put up the best partnership for any wicket in the series : Partnership in a team game plays a very vital role in putting up a big total on the board and also instil a lot of confidence to take the game on from there.
In the ongoing home series against New Zealand, the best partnership thus far, in the four innings, has been put up by the combination of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane for the fourth wicket in the recently concluded Second Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Electing to bat on winning the toss, Team India lost both the openers, Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan, very cheaply.
Dhawan, in the fourth delivery of the very second over of the match, tried to cut a Matt Henry delivery that was very close to the off-stump but succeeded only in getting an inside edge, which ‘disturbed the furniture behind’. He faced 10 deliveries for his solitary run.
Nine over later, a superb delivery by Henry, who had been constantly beating Vijay outside the off-stump, bowled one couple of inches fuller and forced the batsman to play the shot, to avoid the ball from hitting the stumps. However, the ball took a faint edge and sailed past to the wicket-keeper, Watling, who made no mistake.
Team India skipper, Virat Kohli, who joined Cheteshwar Pujara at this juncture, did not bother the scorers much. He departed after contributing just 5 runs. Chasing a ball outside the off-stump, which was not quite a half-volley, he ended up slicing it off the outside half of the bat that resulted in a brilliant catch to Tom Latham at gully.
The Indian score board, at this juncture read, 46 runs for the loss of 3 wickets.
It is at this stage, Ajinkya Rahane joined Pujara in the middle, who was going strong, unbeaten on 26* runs.
At lunch on the first day a brilliant first session of Test cricket was witnessed. New Zealand bowled superbly on a grassy pitch. The bowlers were backed up by some excellent plans and took three wickets.
Pujara had been resolute. But Team India had a long way to go before they felt anything near safe.
This is when Pujara and Rahne stood their ground well, played each and every ball to their merit and did not try anything adventurous. They had realised that a good partnership between them for the fourth wicket would give a solid ground for the batsmen who would follow.
Pujara reached his 10th half-ton in Tests facing 147 deliveries with 11 hits to the fence. His patience paid off.
The duo stayed un-separated at tea with India score reading 136 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. They had added 90 runs for the third-wicket with Pujara unbeaten on 64* runs with 13 fours and Rahane, closing in on his 9th Test half-century, was unbeaten on 47* runs with 6 fours.
There was a slight scare post-tea when in the 60th over, Henry bowled one short and wide to Rahane. The ball did not bounce as much as it was expected to. Rahane got a bottom edge but, fortunately, did not carry to the wicket-keeper, Watling.
Rahane got to his 9th Test half-ton in 100 balls with 6 fours.
Denying any kind of success to the Kiwi bowlers, the Indian duo kept on moving the score board, unless in the 70th over, Wagner who was ‘setting up’ Pujara by placing short cover in position, succeeded in forcing him to play an ‘uppish’ bowler’s back drive and made no mistake in holding on to the catch.
Pujara had played an innings of 278 minutes, facing 219 balls and scored 87 runs with the help of 17 fours.
At the time of Pujara’s departure, Rahane was on 71* runs with the help of 10 fours.
The duo had successfully added 141 runs for the fourth wicket, the best partnership, thus far, for any wicket in this series.