Cheteshwar Pujara is one of the best Indian Test cricketers, and is known for his contribution to India in lifting the ICC trophies; World T20 in 2007, World Cup in 2011, the Champions Trophy in 2013, and the recent ICC Test Championship Mace that India retained after ending the South Africa Test series 2-1. But the Saurashtra cricketer believes that although India is thriving as Test champions under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, former captain MS Dhoni’s contribution to establish India as world beaters in Test cricket was far greater.
Virat Kohli was presented the ICC Test Championship mace on Saturday (24 Feb.) for holding the top position in Test cricket rankings, after the final Test (at Wanderers) of the 3-match series was won by India against South Africa, however, only after losing the series. But winning the last Test of the series meant that no other team (specially South Africa) move ahead of India in ICC Test rankings.
India’s aim has always been to win cricket overseas
Cheteshwar Pujara, who has decided to play county cricket for Yorkshire (England), after getting overlooked at the IPL 2018 auctions, spoke about India’s rise as Test champions and told News 18,
“To start with, it feels really good to retain the top spot in Test cricket and get the mace. It is something we as a team thrive to do and to be honest, be it under Dhoni or now under Kohli, the motive has always been to win Tests and not just in India, but also overseas.”
Pujara feels Dhoni’s contribution in Test cricket for India is overlooked
Cheteshwar Pujara acknowledged that India has emerged as Test champions is the last couple of seasons, but gave more of the credit to former captain MS Dhoni, and said that the wicketkeeper-batsman’s role to push India to the top of Test rankings has been overlooked.
“It is true that this team has done really well in Test cricket in the last two seasons, but to be fair, people tend to overlook Dhoni’s contribution as Test captain.”
India became No.1 Test team under MS Dhoni
Pujara pointed out the fact that India had become the No.1 Test team under the captaincy of MS Dhoni in 2009, and had remained on top for two years till 2011, which was one of the biggest run in India’s Test ranking history. Cheteshwar also said that after winning the 3rd and last Test match in South Africa, Team India’s morale level had reached on another level.
“India became the No.1 Test team under him (in November 2009). India’s longest stint at the top in Test cricket was from November 2009 to August 2011 under MS Dhoni. And we are looking to take that forward as a team and for that we need to do well overseas and the win in Wanderers stands us in good stead. To win on a wicket like that meant that the morale of the team reached another level,” he told CricketNext.
Comparing Dhoni and Kohli is unfair
Cheteshwar said that while people compared MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli, it was a bit unfair for the former captain, as the Jharkhand cricketer had fortified India’s place at the top of Test rankings. Pujara said,
“Also, talking about the two captains is a bit unfair because Dhoni led for a while and Kohli has just about started off and settling down. Maybe we can do that in some time from now. But yes, it was a pleasure to play under Dhoni and it is no different to be led by Kohli.”
While the scoreline from the South Africa Test series reads 2-1 in, Cheteshwar Pujara believes it was much closer than what the records suggest,
“Just a matter of a couple of partnerships. Trust me, things would have looked very different had there been just a couple of partnerships. The team played some really good cricket and the bowlers were fantastic. We had them on the mat in Cape Town and again in Centurion, it was the batsmen who failed to stitch partnerships.”