Struggling Vijay looking for second wind

The experienced opener would want to erase the memories of this season’s England tour where two key aspects of the opener’s batting - footwork and judgment of line - appeared to be missing. 

With 3933 Test runs from at 39.33 with 12 Test hundreds, Vijay brings experience to the table.   -  ap

There were indications that Murali Vijay would earn a recall to the Indian team for the four-Test series in Australia.

You heard whispers of him travelling with the India ‘A’ team to New Zealand for the four-day game which only made sense if he was going to be picked for Australia series. Now, the selectors have handed Vijay a lifeline.

The experienced opener would want to erase the memories of this season’s England tour where two key aspects of the opener’s batting — footwork and judgment of line — appeared to be missing.  

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The quality of bowling was high, the seaming, swinging conditions were demanding, but then Vijay had successfully negotiated these challenges in his earlier campaign of England.

Now, he was tentative, appeared to get bogged down — the key to Vijay’s batting has always been blending sound defence with judicious aggression — and soon found himself out of the tour.

Yet, rebounding quickly from the disappointment, Vijay did get his act right, displaying commitment and focus.

He signed a short-term contract with Essex and then proceeded to bat like the Vijay of old, with substance and flair. Scores of 56 and 100 against Nottinghamshire, 85, Worcestershire and 80, Surrey appeared to have convinced the selectors that Vijay had some more cricket left in him.

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With 3933 Test runs from at 39.33 with 12 Test hundreds, Vijay brings experience to the table; of the other openers in the squad, the gifted Prithvi Shaw is still very new to international cricket while K.L. Rahul has suffered sharp swings in form.

Vijay could add meat to the line-up. In his last tour of Australia in 2014-15, Vijay notched up 482 runs in four Tests at a whopping 60.25.   

This included an outstanding first day 144 on a lively Gabba wicket with bounce and seam movement - it was the quickest pitch of the series - against Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood.

Vijay’s past exploits down under would have been on the selectors’ mind. He copes with the bounce capably, swaying away from the lifting deliveries with his eyes on the ball, and can play the horizontal bat shots - the cut and the pull - so important in Australia.

Yet the 34-year-old Vijay would need to work on his backswing - it needs to be straighter than it was in England. And he is a better batsman when he stays still and balanced, doing away with the initial movement.

Vijay will have to bring on his ‘A’ game in Australia.