Rustenburg (South Africa): Cheteshwar Pujara led from the front with a strokeful unbeaten 70 as India A reached 147 for two against hosts South Africa A at tea on the opening day of the first unofficial Test here on Saturday.
Pujara cracked 10 fours in his 126-ball innings and starred in a 66-run second wicket partnership with Murali Vijay (44). He then added another 53 runs with Rohit Sharma (53) for the third wicket at Olympia Park here.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan (11) took time to see off the initial phase after Pujara won the toss and elected to bat, but the Delhi batsman could not stay longer at the crease, getting dismissed by Simon Harmar.
Harmar 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. He started the proceedings with a cover drive off Wayne Parnell in the second over. He picked up another boundary off Andrew Birch in the 14th over.
The Tamil Nadu batsman gave a special treatment to Harmer as he plundered a four and a six in successive deliveries of one of his overs. The 29-year-old repeated his act in the 23rd over by Harmer when he first drove one through covers and then swept another delivery to the boundary.
Harmer was also at the receiving end of Pujara when the Saurashtra batsman pulled him over square leg and then cut him through the point region in his consecutive overs.
Pacer Abbott too bleeded runs as both Pujara and Vijay picked up a boundary each off his overs.
Pujara went berserk and cut Parnell through point and gully area before picking up another four at the point region. In the 35th over, he once again stole runs off Abbott when he flicked him to the fine leg region.
Birch gave the hosts the much-needed breakthrough when he had Vijay caught by Harmer at second slip in the 38th over.
Rohit Sharma then joined Pujara in the middle and just before the drinks, the skipper sent Birch across the fine leg area for another four.
Sharma picked up his first boundary too against Birch when he drove him across the cover region.
Pujara reached his half-century when he edged a Birch delivery but it fall short off the gully fielder and raced away to the boundary. Sharma then picked up a six off Harmer over mid-on as India A reached 121 for two in 50 overs.
Pujara hit boundary off Parnell and then sent Duminy through the covers for another four in the 58th over just before the tea break.