The national selectors who gave Murali Vijay a chance against Australia in the winter of 2008 would be mightily pleased that the faith they placed in him has come good. Before the start of the team workout at the VCA Stadium here at Jamtha, the 31-year-old opener, who has played 35 Test matches and scored 2570 runs with six centuries and a dozen half-centuries, appeared a confident man.
“I do not want to give any chance away. I am trying to play my best and put India in a good position, and so far so good; it’s been coming out well for me. I am in a good state of mind and that is more important for me at the moment,’’ Vijay said.
When asked to assess his performance in the last two years he said: “It’s early to answer that question because I have a lot of seasons to go. I prepare for all the three formats of the game, but at the moment I am fitting into the Test team; so obviously I am working hard. My aim is to keep improving every session and add value to the team. At the moment I am in the right space and, as I told you, for the past two years I have been travelling around and got good experience of how to organise yourself out in the middle; so a lot of learning happened and it is good for the team and the individual.’’
An incredible statistical detail is that India have won nearly 49 per cent of their Test matches when Vijay has played; and they have won only 35 per cent of the Test matches when Vijay was dropped from the squad or not included in the XI. There have been gaps in his career and that’s because he only replaced Gautam Gambhir in 2008 against Australia for a Test match here. Vijay has not figured in 34 Test matches after his debut.
High confidence level
Giving an insight into the ongoing series, Vijay said, “The confidence (level of the Indian team) is really high as we had a good game in Mohali and the first day in Bengaluru was in our favour. I don’t know whether the batting is a worry for us because everybody is one match away from a big knock and this match may be the one.
“The pressure we put on their batsman was incredible to watch from close-in. It’s been a cat and mouse game and going well for us. When we go out to bat we have our plans as they are also putting immense pressure. So it is a good contest to be a part of.”
Responding to the absence of a big crowd for the Tests, he said, “If you get into a game with this intensity, you don’t really think about the crowd because already there are a lot of things to think about. But it will add value if a lot of people turn up to support us and it will be great fun.’’
Batting with Cheteshwar Pujara: It is very important to know what your partner is up to. If he is not in touch a little bit, it is your responsibility to take as many balls as possible to make him comfortable. I have a good rapport with everyone because we have played the domestic tournaments together.
On Shikhar Dhawan: For Shikhar to get the big one and for everybody it is the same. We are working as a pack, so obviously our goal is to win the game and put the team in a better position when we go in to bat. That is our criterion at the moment.
On the pitch: I straightaway came to the press conference and didn’t go to the ground. Hopefully, it should be a good sporting wicket.
Reaction to criticisms: People are going to talk, whether you perform or not. It is a very individually-oriented thing. I like to be criticised because I can get good points out of it or maybe I can work on it. At times it helps, so I don’t give too much thought to criticism or praise. It should be balanced I think.
On Jadeja: He is a great asset because he can bowl and field well and is a good bat at that slot. He has done really well for himself after coming back.