Centurion, Dec 26 (IANS) India opener Mayank Agarwal said that fellow opener and vice-captain KL Rahul getting a hundred on day one of the first Test at the SuperSport Park was the highlight for the team. He also hoped that Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane put up a big partnership on day two. India ended day one on 272/3 with Rahul carrying his bat through the day to stay unbeaten on 122 while Rahane was unconquered on 40.
"I think the highlight for us as a team is Rahul getting a big hundred. But the crucial point for us is getting partnerships. We got good partnerships, first up. Then, with Virat and KL and then Ajinkya and KL, I hope they can continue the same. Knitting partnerships and making them bigger and bigger is the key, is also the highlight for us as a team today," said Agarwal in the virtual press conference.
Talking about Rahul's stunning century, Agarwal felt his willingness to bat for long after being set stood out. "As someone who's watching him closely, I think he really understands where his off-stump is. He is really getting into the line of the ball and he's playing really well. He's very disciplined with his game plan and his mindset. He's looking to bat sessions and looking to bat through whenever he gets set."
Agarwal, who played a crucial role in building an opening stand of 117 while making 60, revealed the conversations he had with head coach Rahul Dravid on playing in South African conditions. "The conversations were about being very disciplined. He was very clear in saying that when you especially play in South Africa and other countries, you will not look very good but it's not about looking good or not looking good. It is all about sticking to your plans, being disciplined, and waiting for your opportunities to score. We were thinking around those lines and I am glad we could do well in the first session."
He also credited the centre-wicket practices in doing well for one and a half sessions on day one. "The plan was to be very disciplined and only look to play the balls which were on the stumps and try to leave as many as possible. I am glad that we could do just that. Talking about the practice, it was great practice. We had so many sessions in the open nets, the centre wicket practice in the ground and you could really get a feel of the situations, conditions, and what we could probably encounter in the Test match. So, it was great preparation for us."
Agarwal stressed upon application and consistent partnerships by the Indian batters in doing well on day one. "Being placed at 272/3 at the end of the day is a credit to the batting unit. We really applied ourselves and played really well. The talk has been that people who get set have to continue and credit to KL for batting through the day. He has made sure that he has been a part of very important partnerships."
"We will try to get as many as we can. We are very well-placed at 270-odd for thr'e. So, that's good for us. I think the first one hour is going to be very crucial. If we can do that, then we can definitely pile on a big score. But will be trying to get as many as possible and 400 plus will be good."
Asked about the behaviour of the Centurion pitch, Agarwal opined, "There was a bit of moisture in the wicket early on. That's why you could see a few balls had kicked from it and I think it just got a little better to bat on as the day progressed and got a little quicker."
The 30-year-old signed off by not saying much about his lbw dismissal off Lungi Ngidi, where the umpire's call wasn't taken into consideration during ball tracking. "I am not allowed to express my opinions on it. I will leave it at that unless I want to be in the bad books and get my money docked."
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