Hanuma Vihari had an indifferent start to his Indian Premier League (IPL) career. But after a gap of three years, India’s middle-order batsman is back in the mix. A good debut season with senior national team paved the way for Vihari’s comeback as Delhi Capitals snapped him up for Rs 2 crore in the auctions held in January. Now, a new Delhi side gives him the perfect platform to stake a claim in white ball cricket.
Vihari is a prolific run-getter in the domestic circuit and boasts of a first-class average of 59.98. It was those runs that catapulted him into the Test team. Keeping away from the IPL limelight since his last match in 2015 benefited the 25-year-old from Andhra Pradesh. The decision of not to chase the IPL reaped wonders as he scored heavily in Ranji Trophy and slowly things fell into place.
“When I got the sack in my second year of IPL, I told myself that I’ll never chase the IPL, it will be a byproduct if I play for India. That is exactly how it is panned out. If your dream is to play for India everything else will follow,” Vihari recalled during a round-table discussion.
“My dream was to play Test cricket and that could only be achieved by performing consistently in first-class cricket,” Vihari explained. “That is the way it should be. If you aspire to play Tests then you should take pride in playing first-class cricket. Youngsters coming up should take that route rather than the short-cut which is the IPL,” he added.
Vihari had scored a fighting half-century on his debut in England. Reflecting back on his wonderful season with the Indian Test team, he said, “Last six months have been great, starting in England where I made my debut and carrying it forward to Australia.”
Vihari also singled out his performances in the recently concluded Irani Trophy and said, “Coming back to India and hitting those two hundreds in the Irani Cup is as important as my feats in international cricket. To score runs in India is important for me because domestic cricket is my grassroots. I want to keep performing whenever I get the opportunity to play domestic cricket.”
Going through the hard grind before tasting success is something Vihari likes and that is what makes him a reliable player for Team India. “It’s good that I started my career in tough conditions and good opponents because now whatever comes in the future will be challenging but not as much as what I faced before,” Vihari said.
Coach talk: Vihari finds similarity between Ricky Ponting and Ravi Shastri
Vihari’s fruitful debut with the Indian team had a lot to do with his temperament and composure. He also showed good technique in challenging conditions in Australia. Head coach Ravi Shastri is one person who monitored his progress keenly in the nets. In the tour of Australia, Vihari proved to be a useful commodity scoring vital runs at the top and middle order. But now the Andhra batsmen is under the tutelage of former Australia World Cup winning captain Ricky Ponting. Does he find any similarity between the two?
“I had only practice session with Ponting. He is extremely professional and so is the Indian management. One thing common between the two is their insatiable urge to win and never settle for anything less. Ricky keeps telling us to have the mindset of winning the IPL this year. So really looking forward to working with him,” he said.
As far his batting position is concerned for the Delhi Capitals the right-hander said that he would like to play in the top-order. “They have not specifically told me where I am going to bat. Preferably I will be batting at the top but if not I have to be ready to bat in the middle. But it doesn’t matter where I am batting. If I am mentally ready then I can play wherever the team wants me to bat,” he concluded.