SYDNEY: The reticent Hanuma Vihari has slowly but surely cemented his place in the Indian Test team and is confident of contributing to the team’s cause, saying he is well-equipped to execute plans in the traditional format.
Vihari scored a hundred and also got a wicket with his part-time off-breaks against Australia A in the pink ball warm-up game. He looks set to bat at number six in the first Day/Night Test at Adelaide.
“In 2018, it was my second overseas tour (after England) and it was a good challenge for me back then. Although I contributed a little (back then), I feel I am more well equipped with my game and pretty sure with my gameplan as well and looking forward to the Test series,” Vihari said after the end of the three-day warm-up tie against Australia A.
While he will be batting at number six in the Test match, during the warm-up game, he did get a chance to bat at number 4 and 5 along with seasoned pros like Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane
“At number four, I always feel you have more time than you think. In domestic cricket, I have always batted number three, so I am a bit familiar batting up the order,” he said.
“Obviously, batting with Pooji (Pujara’s nickname) is completely different. We always have a good communication and he tells me what the bowler is trying to do,” he observed.
His assessment of Rahane is that the Mumbaikar is more flamboyant and has a good grip on game situations.
“Batting with Ajinkya, he is more flamboyant and he has also got a good sense of game situation
“….but coming to bat at number six is a totally different game situation. You have to bat with the keeper or an all-rounder or the bowlers. I enjoy batting at both positions and it’s about what the team needs,” he said.
Having been in Australia for a month along with two first-class matches under their belt, Vihari said the players are now well-prepared to tackle the pace and bounce of Australian tracks.
“It is very important as bounce plays a major part in this country so I feel we as Indians we tend to play every ball because of the bounce.
“First two games, if you see we are leaving the ball very well and trying to acclimatise to conditions here. Going into the first Test, we are very well equipped with pace and bounce of the wicket,” Vihari said.
Being seen as a part-time spinner, Vihari feels that he is someone who can bowl “decently to a plan.”
“Today Ajinkya asked me to bowl to a plan and I was happy doing it. Getting the wicket was a bonus and happy with that.”
So how many overs does he fancy bowling in a day?
“As far as number of overs are concerned, it depends on the captain as to how many overs he wants from me. It also depends on the game situation. Whether it’s the first innings or second innings.”
He agreed that a choice between Wriddhiman Saha and Rishabh Pant is a good headache to have.
“Healthy competition is always good for the team and I feel every spot, we have good competition. It’s up to team management as to whom they want to pick.
“I feel both of them are in good form and it’s a tough call and good headache to have.”
Asked about skipper VIrat Kohli, Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin, Vihari said the veterans are sweating it out in the nets and are ready to come out all guns blazing on Thursday.
“They have been practising everyday in the nets and have been putting in the hard work. We have played a Pink Test before this as well so they are used to it and are practising every day. Being professionals they are the will be very well-equipped.”
Asked about the difference between pink and red balls, Vihari said that the primary difference is pace off the pitch.
“The pace and bounce is totally different from the red ball, it comes on to the bat pretty well because of the shine or whatever the reason is.
“Under the lights it comes on to the bat even better. And there was a bit of the seam movement on the first day (at SCG) as well, getting used to it was a big challenge but now I feel as a team we are well prepared.”