Hanuma Vihari shone through with a responsible half-century on day four to steer Andhra to a comfortable victory at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here. The credit for setting the contest up for his team went to the bowlers, he told mediapersons after the game.
After getting the upper hand in the first two days, Rajasthan hung on in the contest and sought parity through their batsmen on the third. It was in the evening session on that third day that made the difference between the sides in the end, he pointed out.
“I feel we bowled very well yesterday, especially after tea. We came back really well. That made the difference; I thought after tea, the way we showed our attitude, the intensity was really good and that really shifted the momentum [for us],” he said.
Lauding the bowling of seamers C. V. Stephen and K. V. Sasikanth, who accounted for 14 of the 20 Rajasthan wickets to fall in the match, he said, “The whole season they’ve been bowling really well. They’re in good form and they’re bowling in the right areas. Both have a bright future, they’re young. I feel if they keep bowling the same way they’ll get recognition.”
He added: “They have the skill-set of swinging it both ways. They bowl in the right areas. That’s very important on this wicket. If you bowl in the right areas, you can put pressure on the batsmen and that it exactly what they did.”
Vihari’s own knock in the second innings played a role in the win as well, as the contest wasn’t very one-sided in the morning, when Rajasthan’s seamers were fresh and accurate, and the conditions helpful. It took a cautious approach from him to steer his side away from choppy waters.
Vihari revealed he was biding his time so he could get through safely to the afternoon session to make hay. “[In the] morning session, it always does something in the air and off the pitch. But we knew in the afternoon session, it will ease out a little bit, so I was waiting [as] once we get through that period we would have some scoring opportunities. Our target wasn’t a big target, so we had to take our time and get through,” he said.
When Bharat started hitting boundaries frequently, the scenario changed. Vihari said the wicketkeeper-batsman took the pressure off of him. “I wouldn’t say that [the pitch] became better, but [Bharat] was playing his natural game. The ball was in his area, then he was going for his shots. He made my job easier, took pressure off me, and I thought it I could stay till the end I could take my team through,” he said.
Commenting on Bharat’s batting, he said, “He’s an attacking batsman, and he showed what he’s capable of. He played some lovely shots and he counterattacked very well.”
The win has propelled Andhra to the third position in the points table (for teams from Groups A and B) with 14 points.