India middle-order batsman Hanuma Vihari impressed the Indian dressing room with his performance in the Test series in Australia last year. Vihari has provided a much-needed depth in India’s middle-order since the departure of MS Dhoni and with Hardik Pandya unfit to play, Vihari’s role becomes even more crucial in the upcoming series against Australia. Though, despite consistent performances over the past two years in both international cricket and in the domestic circuit, there is still always a lingering doubt on whether the right-handed batsman will be in India’s playing XI.
Former India spinner Pragyan Ojha believes that because of the fact that Vihari is a Test specialist, he has to perform in every game to remain in contention for the team.
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“Hanuma Vihari, this boy doesn’t feature in IPL, doesn’t feature in limited-overs for the national side. Being a Test specialist at the starting point of his career, it has both advantages and disadvantages,” Pragyan Ojha told Sports Today.
“If you perform in Test cricket, especially abroad you earn respect. But on the flip side, your name is not circulating in that zone, a lot of people keep discussing the likes of Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav because they are performing on a platform where a lot of people are watching. It’s the truth,” he added.
“I feel this series is very important for Vihari. India will not have Virat Kohli, those are big shoes to be filled. Vihari got a brilliant hundred (pink-ball warm-up). But it is not going to be easy, especially in the pink-ball Test. He has to perform consistently well to survive there.
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“He is someone like VVS Laxman, I would say. Every game Laxman played was a very important game for himself because he was a Test specialist. He has to consistently perform to be in the reckoning because he is not a regular in the limited-overs format. It’s become important for him to deliver in every game he plays.
“At home conditions, it becomes difficult for him to play because India play an extra spinner. And if Hardik Pandya starts bowling, he straightaway walks in.
“It’s a very thankless job. A young boy like Hanuma Vihari, if he is getting runs he will be picked, but if he doesn’t get runs or the team doesn’t do well, the first one who will be on the line will be Hanuma Vihari,” Ojha signed off.