Murali Vijay: I will be back playing for India

I believe age is only a number, says an optimistic Vijay.

Vijay: “It is not the first time this [being left out] has happened to me.”   -  AP

He walked out of the ground, his cap in place, kit bag slung over shoulders, face still proud.

The silence and a handful of spectators present contrasted sharply with the decibel levels of boisterous crowds in the ongoing Test series in England.

In a quiet, serene setting, M. Vijay played his part with the bat and cheered on from the dressing room as his team Jolly Rovers defeated MRC-A in a VAP Trophy game at the quaint IIT-Chemplast ground before interacting with the ground-staff he had known for years.

The opener with 3933 runs from 59 Tests at 39.33 could have so easily been at Southampton but for the decision by the selection panel to have the experienced batsman replaced after the third Test.

His spirit though had not been broken. “I will be back playing for India. I am positive, will sort a few things out, make runs. Firstly, I want India to win the series in England.”

Not the first time

Vijay added, “It is not the first time this [being left out] has happened to me.”

Looking at Vijay’s performances in India’s last five Tests, he made a 46 in the second Test at Centurion in South Africa, and a gutsy 127-ball 25, often taking blows on the body, on a brutal Wanderers pitch, that contributed to a victory. And then, he came up with an innings of 105 versus Afghanistan in Bengaluru.

In England, a combination of swinging, seaming conditions, the Duke ball and some high quality pace bowling has resulted in openers from both teams struggling.

Vijay was involved in a 50-run opening partnership in the first Test at Birmingham and then bagged a pair at Lord's. Dropped from the third Test at Nottingham, he soon found himself flying back home.

Age not a factor

Was Vijay’s age, 34, a factor? The opener said, “I believe age is only a number. As long as my feet move and my head is still, I will continue to play.”

On India’s last campaign in England, the technically sound Vijay was the pick with 402 series runs, displaying great expertise in ‘leaving’ the ball.

“The English pacemen had their gameplan worked out this time, bowling closer to my body and making me play a lot more deliveries,” said Vijay.

Given his fighting instincts, the man called the ‘Monk’ is itching for a comeback. For him, ‘belief’ is the key word.