Virat Kohli
Kohli and Pujara have been vital for India in Test Cricket. In this picture, India's captain Virat Kohli (C) speaks with teammate Cheteshwar Pujara (L) as Umesh Yadav (R) looks on during cricket training at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Jan. 5, 2015. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

Sourav Ganguly has heaped praise on Indian Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and believes he is as important to the team as Virat Kohli in the longest format of the game.

Pujara has always been highly regarded in the cricketing corridors in India and has been a mainstay in the Indian Test team in recent years and looked upon as the savior to plug the gap left by the departure of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.

Virat Kohli has been leading from the front since taking over as captain from MS Dhoni and has scored six centuries in the last 12 months, while having led India to a record nine consecutive Test series wins prior to their loss against South Africa in January 2018.

Be it One Day International’s, Twenty20’s or Test cricket, the focus has been on Kohli owing to his blistering form in all formats. He is the talisman of Indian cricket at the moment and is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest of all time.

Ganguly, however, believes Pujara deserves as much credit as the skipper, owing to his ability to perform in all conditions and provide stability to the team’s top order. The former India skipper believes India has been at its best when they have a strong number three batsman.

Rahul Dravid held that mantle for a number of years, before he was replaced by Pujara. And Ganguly believes the Gujarat-born batsmen deserves due credit after labeling him equally as important as Kohli in the Indian Test team.

"Pujara is from the old school of cricketers who will keep working hard and deliver. Look at his Test records, after 57 matches, he's got 14 hundreds. He just goes unnoticed," Ganguly said while speaking at the Kolkata launch of his book titled ‘A Century Is Not Enough’,” as quoted by NDTV Sports. "Along with Virat Kohli in this team, his record is as good as anybody. He's from that school of cricket where he will grind you, grind you and win you matches.

"The best team had the best number three. When India played at its best the best number three was Dravid. When India played at its best away, it’s Pujara at number three. They actually take the shine off the new ball, allow the strokmakers to make batting easier. He is as important to this Test team as Virat Kohli. But sometimes he goes unnoticed," Ganguly added.

Pujara, however, has been under a considerable amount of pressure in recent months owing to his struggle to score runs away from home. The Test specialist has managed just 895 runs in 16 Test matches during six away tours — three against South Africa which includes the 2018 tour where he managed just 100 runs, and once each against England, Australia and New Zealand.

The 30-year-old has scored 14 hundreds during his test career of which four have been away from home. Three were against Sri Lanka, where conditions are almost similar to the sub-continent and one was against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2013.