Many would believe that Hanuma Vihari has been given a raw deal. Vihari was left out of the Indian team after the one-off Test in England last year, despite a decent run of scores leading up to this snub.
It was in early 2021 that Vihari had earned great praise for showing exemplary fight to deny Australia a win in the third Test at Sydney.
These highlights, however, were not enough to keep his Test spot. It seems that the selectors have moved on, even if there have been calls for a batting overhaul in the aftermath of India’s defeat to Australia in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) final.
For Vihari, who is leading the South Zone team in the Duleep Trophy here, there is hope yet. He can look to Ajinkya Rahane for inspiration. Rahane made a comeback at the WTC final after an 18-month gap, and has since been elevated to vice-captain.
“Ajinkya made a comeback at 35 - that’s a good sign. This proves that if the player has quality, there is always time to make a comeback. I am only 29, so I have a lot of time,” Vihari said.
Vihari acknowledges that Rahane’s return was strengthened by his grand show in the IPL (Indian Premier League). Vihari, however, does not play in the IPL, which denies him the visibility associated with the high-profile tournament.
The batter last got a consistent run in the IPL in 2013, when he played 17 matches for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He played two more seasons - in 2015 and 2019 - where he got only five and two outings, respectively.
Being branded a Test player is not fair, Vihari believes.
“I was doing commentary during the IPL. There’s nothing you can do about it. I had done well in the IPL when I was 19 (in 2013), but I didn’t get many chances after that. I have grown as a white-ball player, but many don’t want to believe that because they have already branded me as a Test player. It’s not fair. A quality player can play in all three formats. Hopefully, I can make a comeback in the IPL and the white-ball format as well, if nothing else, to be seen by the public. Many players seem to be making their comebacks (in Tests) after putting up good performances in the IPL, in T20s. Going forward, I want to play all formats of the game,” Vihari said.
The middle-order batter is reportedly set to move from Andhra to Madhya Pradesh for the upcoming domestic season.
“It is not confirmed yet, so I don’t want to comment. Leading South Zone is a privilege. We reached the final under my captaincy last year, and this time we want to go one step further and win the title,” Vihari said.
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