The 370-run stand between opener Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara helped India beat Australia in the second Test in Hyderabad. (BCCI)
Hyderabad: After decimating Australia by an innings and 135 runs in the second Test at Hyderabad, India skipper MS Dhoni lavished praise on Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay for setting up the team's victory by compiling a record-breaking 370-run partnership for the second wicket.
India needed just the morning session on day four to race to a comprehensive win, which gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series and helped Dhoni break Sourav Ganguly's record of 21 Test wins.
"We often talk about long partnerships. If you get 40-50, you have to score big. That's what Pujara and Vijay did," he said. "There was a period when they didn't score many runs but in these conditions, it's important to make the bowlers tired. It was very important to not give their seamers wickets, and I think they saw that period off really well. After that they could dictate terms. Vijay and Pujara did that and it resulted in a massive partnership. It gave the lower order a lot of freedom. We were actually looking to bat half an hour more but we lost wickets while trying to score quick runs," he added.
The 31-year-old, who became India's most successful captain in Tests by claiming the 22nd victory, expressed happiness with the performance of his bowling unit and singled out Bhuvneshwar who gave India crucial breakthroughs in the first innings. "It was important to get off to a good start and Bhuvneshwar provided that. You don't expect the pacers to take a lot of wickets in conditions like these but he bowled good lines. Then the spinners took over. Jadeja and Ashwin bowled well. It was a bit different on this wicket as we usually take the new ball after 80 overs but on this wicket it's important to make it softer as the old ball turned and bounced more."
About becoming India's most successful Test captain, Dhoni credited the whole team and supporting staff for sticking together. "We have gone through a period where we haven't won many games but the guys showed a lot of heart and courage. And winning most matches as captain is a collective effort, credit goes to each and everyone. The support staff have been good as well - Gary [Kirsten] first and now Duncan [Fletcher]."
Pujara, who was adjudged Man of the Match, said that he just focused on playing his natural game and his communication with Vijay was the key to their monumental partnership. "I'm really happy. There was a bit of pressure as I just got married, and my wife was worried [that] I should perform.
"After scoring a century against New Zealand on this track, I got to know the pitch. It was a very similar pitch to that one. When we bowled, the ball was doing a bit. So the plan was to get a partnership. I've scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket and that has helped me get the temperament right. It was a very important partnership with Vijay. That was the most important phase of our innings - we communicated well and the partnership set up the game for the team."