Cheteshwar Pujara feels people tend to overlook MS Dhoni’s contribution as Test captain

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Cheteshwar Pujara feels people tend to overlook MS Dhoni’s contribution as Test captain

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SportsCafe Desk

02/26/2018

Cheteshwar Pujara has claimed that MS Dhoni’s contribution in India's success in Test format has been immense but people often forget it and don't credit him enough. The Test specialist has emphasized on the effect of the County cricket and claimed that it has helped him in improving as a player.

Dhoni captained India’s Test side from 2008 to 2014 during which he led the side to 60 Tests winning 27 matches with a 45% winning rate. Under his guidance, India attained the No. 1 position in the ICC Test rankings for the first time and also for the longest duration. And after India retained their top Test position for the second year running, Pujara didn’t forget to mention Dhoni’s contributions in the format amidst praising the current side.

 “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. 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,” Pujara told CricketNext.

“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 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 added.

While stepping down from the Test captaincy, Dhoni handed over the responsibility to Kohli who has led the side in 35 matches so far. Pujara has played under both players’ guidance as he was part of 26 matches under Dhoni’s leadership and has featured in 30 games with Kohli in charge.

“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,” Pujara said.

India had the chance to win the first-ever series on the South African soil but the lack of fighting spirit shown by batsmen cost the side the first two matches and consequently the series. But, they managed to avoid a whitewash in the series as they won the third and last Test to salvage some pride in the rubber. Pujara has stated that the lost games were much closer than the stats.

“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,” said Pujara.

Pujara scored a fighting 30 in the first Test in Cape Town, while in the second game he was run-out in both the innings and had to face a lot of criticisms. In Johannesburg, however, people saw a typical Pujara innings, who faced 53 balls to open his account and got his first fifty in the series.

“Sometimes, you just have to grind it out and wait for the right balls. I was pleased with the effort I put in and I feel that the win on that wicket set the ball rolling for the rest of the ODI and T20I series. Wickets like those really make me want to pad up and hit the crease. Those are conditions wherein you need to be on the top of your game both mentally and physically. One good ball and you are back in the hut,” he stated.

After going unsold in IPL, Pujara decided to play for Yorkshire in the County cricket to prepare himself for the upcoming challenges in England. The Saurashtra lad has scored 816 runs including three centuries and three half-centuries in County Championship. Considering his record in the tournament, the management is expecting a good preparation from India’s valuable Test player.

“Well, nowadays you do tend to get challenging wickets a lot more and it is only fair. The Indian team had no issues playing on the wickets produced in South Africa. In fact, the county stint with Yorkshire should further help me prepare for the challenges that lie ahead of me when India tours England. The challenges that shall be thrown at us — by James Anderson and boys — is not something we aren’t aware of. This stint in England shall help me prepare for that,” the 30-year-old said.

“I am really looking forward to it. Playing county cricket means you prepare on wickets where every ball could be the last you face in an innings. The wickets are really challenging and I love challenges. County cricket has improved me as a player and I just want to score as many runs as possible for Yorkshire and prepare for the Test series against England and the road ahead.”

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