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‘Pujara will be the key’

Mumbai: Though India were thrashed 0-4 in their last tour to England, Kapil Dev is of the opinion that if the current set of batsmen delivers big, the bowling attack, even sans Zaheer Khan, is capable of complementing them in the five-Test series starting from July 9.

Kapil singled out Cheteshwar Pujara as the man the Indian team would be looking forward to hold one end up in the series that begins at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, and compared the Saurashtra batsman with yesteryear stalwarts Rahul Dravid and Ravi Shastri.

“Pujara is ideal to play five-day cricket. If he plays well, the result can come out better in India’s favour. Pujara can bat throughout the day. He has that temperament.

“I am not saying (Virat) Kohli is any less, but Pujara is the key player for me. In a couple of years, he can play ODIs or T20s, but at present, he is your backbone (in Tests). He is the cricketer who can put his shutter down like Dravid and say I like to bat the whole day.

“In our time, we used to say Ravi Shastri ‘You keep blocking’. I told Ravi to occupy one end, play the whole day and on not being able to score, play some 40 overs or so against teams like West Indies so that others can come and score.

“Such players might not get more runs, but they keep one end tight. Pujara is not Shikhar Dhawan or (Virender) Sehwag, but we need players like him who can play out the day,” he explained.

Kapil also welcomed the five-Test series — the first for India in England since 1959 — and hailed Dravid’s advisory role with the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side in the run-up to the Test series. “I think his (Dravid) experience will help a lot. If the boys are ready to listen, I am sure it will help them. He is such a sorted person that it is bound to help the batsmen as long as they are ready to listen.

“He could have come in for a longer period, but it depends on his choice,” he said. “This Indian side looks stronger, but it’s not going to be easy.” (PTI)