Vihari, better late than never

Andhra skipper Hanuma Vihari, who is all set to tour England with India A come July, says he would have played for India long back had he been from Mumbai, Delhi or Karnataka.

G. Hanuma Vihari scored 752 runs, including two 100s and three 50s, in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18. (File Photo)   -  Vivek Bendre

Despite clinical performances in the domestic season, Andhra skipper Hanuma Vihari remained overlooked at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions — for the third time in a row — in January. However, the right-handed batsman knows his shortcomings. After being selected in India A for the tour of England in July on Tuesday, he reveals his tortuous route.

“If you see my performances over the years, you would know that if I was from Mumbai, Delhi or Karnataka, I would have been playing for India long back,” Vihari tells Sportstar, on the challenges of being from Andhra.

“This issue has been in my mind all the time and that’s why I try to push myself, and score those extra runs every year. I keep scoring, but still, I have to wait as the selection is not in my hands,” adds Vihari, who scored 752 runs, including two 100s and three 50s, in the Ranji Trophy 2017-18.

Nonetheless, an offer from Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League brought some hope for the 24-year-old. He played four limited-over games — from March 24 to April 5 — and even earned a handsome remuneration. “I will try to carry that confidence to England. I will keep the conditions in mind and prepare accordingly. It is an important tour, as I am on the verge of playing for India. If it goes well, I will be pushing for a place,” says Vihari, who represented Abahani Limited alongside Bangladesh internationals Nasir Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and Mashrafe Mortaza.

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The Bangladesh sojourn widened his perceptions on survival minus the cash-rich league. “Financially, the players there get paid more than what domestic players in India get. It was quite interesting to see that. It made me realise that in India, only the higher level cricketers get all the attention and reward; reaching there is difficult.”

“An average local player in Bangladesh earns triple of what a domestic player gets here in a season. I got $3,000 per match in 50-over games,” says Vihari, who registered 204 runs in four innings, including a 100 and a 50, in the tour. The tournament, under List-A, also helped him add numbers to his statistics.

At present, Vihari is back home training, but the IPL snub continues to hurt him. “It is disappointing. You perform well, but still, don’t get recognised. IPL is a platform where exposure comes quickly. More than how you perform in the domestic season, if you do well in IPL, you are straight into the national team. However again, it’s not in my control,” he reiterates.

Vihari will play under Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer in the four-day games and tri-series respectively. The tour starts from July 16.