Vihari on return to Indian team: If I win Ranji Trophy with Andhra and score enough runs, opportunities will come

Vihari, out of the Indian team since July 2022, has amassed 453 runs for Andhra in the current Ranji Trophy campaign.

Published : Feb 22, 2024 18:22 IST , INDORE - 3 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Andhra batter Hanuma Vihari
FILE PHOTO: Andhra batter Hanuma Vihari | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR/The Hindu

FILE PHOTO: Andhra batter Hanuma Vihari | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR/The Hindu

A floodgate of memories opened as Hanuma Vihari walked into the Holkar Stadium on Thursday. Last year, during Andhra’s Ranji Trophy quarterfinal clash against Madhya Pradesh at the same venue, Vihari fractured his forearm, but still walked out to bat left-handed. Though his efforts earned him praise, Andhra crashed out of the tournament after a five-wicket defeat.

As the two teams meet in yet another quarterfinal on Friday, Vihari is confident of Andhra’s chances. “If we are in a similar situation like last year, we will seize the game this time around,” Vihari told Sportstar.

“When we stepped on to the ground, memories of last year’s quarterfinals came back. But the current team’s mentality is a little different now and we have grown as players; our youngsters are more experienced,” he said.

Vihari relinquished captaincy after the team’s first group league match in January and has been playing as a specialist batter since. “I have moved on quite quickly because we have an able leader in Ricky Bhui. We get along well, so we play in the best interest of the team. In that aspect, both Ricky and I are on the same page, so it was easier to adjust,” Vihari, who has amassed 453 runs so far, said.

Over the last few days, Andhra has been able to keep its ‘core players’ intact and that, according to Vihari, is one of the reasons behind the team’s success. “We have been playing good cricket. Last year also, we played some really good cricket despite being in a tough pool. This time, too, it was not an easy group, but as a red-ball team, we have been performing consistently over the last six to seven years,” he said.

READ | Tamil Nadu faces stern test against defending champion Saurashtra in quarterfinal

“We built a good side and we have been playing together and we know each other’s game. We bonded really well, and that’s the reason why we are in another quarterfinal…”

Being a seasoned campaigner, he also believes that ahead of a marquee game, it’s important to not think ‘too much’ about the game. “If you give the game too much importance, you end up taking too much pressure, which may not be the right thing to do. We have been playing good cricket, and we don’t need to change too much. We just need to keep repeating what we have been doing at the group stage and if we can do that, we should be fine,” he said.

Vihari has been out of the Indian team since July 2022. However, for now, his focus is to guide Andhra to a Ranji Trophy title. “If I win a Ranji Trophy for Andhra and score enough runs, the opportunities will come,” Vihari said with a smile, adding: “If I take too much pressure, I don’t think I can perform out there. So, the only target is to win the Ranji Trophy title for Andhra this year…” Fingers crossed.

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