Bengaluru: All-rounder Hardik Pandya mixed caution with aggression en route his stroke-filled 71 as India finished their first innings on a commendable 474 against Afghanistan at lunch on the second day of the one-off Test on Friday in Bengaluru.
Last man Umesh Yadav also entertained the spectators with some lusty blows as his 26 off 21 balls also helped in beefing up India’s total.
Courtesy Pandya’s third half-century in Test cricket, India added 127 runs during the first session of the second day as Afghanistan skipper Ashgar Stanikzai didn’t take the second new ball during the 104.5 overs.
Pandya’s innings had 10 boundaries and he faced 91 balls. What stood out was his discretion with regards to shot selection knowing that there weren’t too many wickets in hand. He was ready to wait for the loose balls and times played copybook forward defensive strokes.
Senior pro Ravichandran Ashwin played a poor stroke chasing a widish delivery from pacer Yamin Ahmadzai (3/51 in 19 overs) to be caught behind for 18.
However, Pandya decided to attack after Ashwin’s departure as he hit a flurry of boundaries in Ravindra Jadeja’s (20) company. Jadeja gave Mohammed Nabi the charge, hitting him for a six but was holed out in the deep going for the second maximum.
The duo added 67 runs in only 13 overs, taking advantage of the old ball which wasn’t doing much. However, pacer Wafadar (2/100 in 21 overs) was still getting the ball rear up awkwardly at times.
Pandya showed intent with back-to-back boundaries off Rashid Khan (2/154 in 34.5 overs) on drive and a cover drive. He was ready to play those singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard moving. Pandya completed his half-century with a slog sweep of Mohammmed Nabi.
After the completion of his half-century, Pandya played a classic on-drive off Wafadar followed by a pull-shot. He was finally caught behind trying to play the ramp shot. It brought Yadav, who immediately hit Wafadar for a boundary and two huge sixes before Rashid trapped Ishant Sharma leg before to wrap up the innings.