Cape Town, Jan 6: India all-rounder Hardik Pandya played one of the most memorable knocks of his international career so far as he played a gritty 93-run knock in the first innings against South Africa in the opening Test here on Saturday (January 6).
Indians were in a spot of bother when the aggressive right-handed bowler came out to bat but his counter-attacking knock revived his side against Proteas. Batting at a strike rate of almost 98, Pandya smashed 14 boundaries and a six in his innings and steered his team through troubled waters.
At one stage India's first innings seemed to be folded within 150 runs, but his knock which had a mix of caution and aggression frustrated the Proteas as long as he stayed at the crease.
After spending some time at the crease, the right-handed batsman began targetting the opposition bowlers.
Pandya dominated a restorative eighth-wicket stand with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (25) and together put up 99-runs before Bhuvneshwar was dismissed.
Pandya too couldn't keep the concentration intact and edged when he was just 7 short of his straight second Test century. But his valiant effort at a crucial stage of the game was hailed by fans and experts for it prevented the match slip away from his team's grip.
Following Pandya's departure at 199, India could only add 10 more runs to their first innings' total and were folded for 209.
Here's how Twitterati hailed Pandya for his knock:
Hardik Pandya didnt just attack. This was a sensible, cleverly played innings. Has risen many notches as a player.— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 6, 2018
Fastest Test fifties for India in South Africa:— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) January 6, 2018
40 balls - MS Dhoni, Centurion, 2010
46 balls - Virender Sehwag, Centurion, 2010
46 balls - HARDIK PANDYA, Cape Town, 2018#SAvIND
Intent makes such a big difference. So proud of Hardik for a really special counter-attacking innings.— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) January 6, 2018
Hope the bowlers do something special in the second innings.#SAvIND
Some 90s are more valuable than many 100s....Pandya’s innings of 93 was one of those. Well played. #SAvIND— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) January 6, 2018
Tragic that @hardikpandya7 couldn't reach century. But this knock of breathtaking bravado and brilliance will be long remembered— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) January 6, 2018
Hardik Pandya's Test career:— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) January 6, 2018
Excellent numbers for someone batting at No. 7/8. #SAvInd
When everyone struggled Hardik Pandya scores half century against likes of Steyn, Rabbada, Morkel & Philander on seaming track and you can't give better birthday gift to Kapil Dev...— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) January 6, 2018
HARDIK PANDYA's 93 is the highest score by an INDIAN in the 21st century in a completed Test innings where the 2nd highest score is 26 and lower. #SAvIND— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) January 6, 2018
One's stature as a player increases when one scores overseas and against an attack comprising Steyn, Rabada, Morkel & Philander when everyone else has struggled, Hardik Pandya shows how it is done. Privilege to watch that 93.— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) January 6, 2018
This is the 2nd time Hardik Pandya has won hearts when India lost hopes of winning. First was the Champions Trophy Finals and after that today. Whatever the result maybe, he has put a smile on the faces of Indian fans#SAvINDpic.twitter.com/81vxqW3Wqo— BCCI Men (@BCCI_Men) January 6, 2018
#SAvIND Hardik Pandya scores 93 while the heroes get blown away! This series will throw up new heroes just like in the World Cup football where the giants of club football are brushed aside by guys you have never heard of before ! Congrats Hardik 👍keep going 🙏— Rothin Barkataki (@imrothin) January 6, 2018