It was a blast from the past. And memories of old came flooding back. The wonderful set up, the easy swing of the willow, the effortless striking of the ball, and the sheer quality of strokemaking, they were all there.
A studious, technically correct opener in Tests, Murali Vijay has in his early days, conjured hurricane knocks for Chennai Super Kings.
The 38-year-old opener’s jaw-dropping 66-ball-121 with an astonishing record-breaking 12 sixes for Ruby Trichy Warriors against Nellai Royal Kings here on Friday was a lone man blitzkrieg like no other in TNPL.
A heroic, against-all-odds onslaught where the next highest score in the innings was 13!
The downpour stayed away from Coimbatore but it rained sixes from Vijay’s willow. Vijay coming good is significant from Tamil Nadu’s perspective.
He is fit and hungry, and his footwork, timing and balance with the willow are intact.
In its quest for the elusive Ranji Trophy, Vijay’s experience and quality will be needed. In fact, in the disastrous campaign last season, where Tamil Nadu could not even qualify for the knock-out phase, Vijay’s temperament and technical attributes were sorely missed.
It’s good that Vijay overcame his mental block against vaccination for Covid. Once he took the jabs he was welcomed back to State cricket. A look at Vijay’s international career and you are enveloped by a feeling of sadness.
Here was a man who stood up to Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood for the first day hundred at the pacey ‘Gabba, and ‘played’ and ‘left’ to handle the English conditions with finesse.
And Vijay took multiple blows to the body on a treacherous Wanderers track against fired-up Protea quicks in a display of rare courage. Under the circumstances, it is unfortunate that a problem with the team management may have played a part in his exit from the Indian side.
Ironically, when he was a commentator, Ravi Shastri had said Vijay was a 20-Test hundred man.
Vijay’s numbers are still laudable, 3982 runs from 61 Tests at 38.28 with 12 centuries. Dropped ruthlessly, he had a lot more to offer to Indian cricket.
But then, Vijay still has unfinished business. Enabling Tamil Nadu triumph in the Ranji Trophy will keep him motivated. And once he gets back in the limelight, other doors might open. For, age is only a number, class is timeless.