Rajkot, March 10: Arpit Vasavada, who struck a crucial hundred in the Ranji Trophy final in company of childhood friend Cheteshwar Pujara on Tuesday, says he was determined to bat time with the Indian batting mainstay, a plan that worked out very well for Saurashtra.
Both Vasavada (106 off 287) and Pujara (66 off 237) batted for five hours on day two for their 142-run stand off 380 balls, succeeding in their plan to wear down the Bengal attack. Pujara overcame illness to make a valuable contribution while Vasavada, who is coached by the former's father Arvind, could not have asked for a bigger stage to score a back-to-back hundred.
"We have been playing together since long. It was in my mind that because of Pujara's health, he will bat after me and I knew he would be there (in the middle). So, for me it was about not getting tired and keep playing with him," said Vasavada.
Pujara and Vasavada put Saurashtra in a strong position, taking their side to 384 for eight at close of play on a deteriorating surface. Pujara has mastered the art of batting long and Vasavada said batting alongside him helped him immensely. The focus was on defending in their marathon stand.
"We batted well. It is not an easy wicket. We have got runs on the board so we have an upper hand."
Asked if there was a specific plan to tire out Bengal's pace attack, the left-handed Vasavada said: "We just wanted to bat as long as possible to tire them out."
The 31-year-old is having his best first-class season with four hundreds. "It was about staying on the wicket. I have learnt from Pujara's father. Even Cheteshwar was telling me in the middle, what to do, what not to do. I get a lot confidence when he is at the other end."
Bengal coach Arun Lal, who rated the pitch as "very poor" on day one, maintained his stance despite Saurashtra putting up a strong first innings total. Asked if he spoke too early about the surface, Lal said: "No. it is a poor wicket, it's not a cricketing wicket. It is slow and low. They batted off course but in cricket there is bowling, fielding, spin and pace. It's not only batting. "And batting 170 runs (178 actually) in the whole day. They also could not score with the ball keeping so low."
He said he was proud of his bowlers as they stuck to their task. "We are not out of the game yet. The match is open. The only thing is, they have runs on the board and we have not. If we have a good start, we can get these runs," Lal said.
"I would have been happier if we restricted them to 300-325 but they played well. In morning session, they (Pujara and Vasavada) did not take any chances. They taught us how to play on this wicket. To bowl on a dead pitch requires a lot of effort. We were able to contain them. I am reasonably happy."