Ranji Trophy: A sweet homecoming for Hanuma Vihari

It proved a memorable fortnight for Hanuma Vihari in the city of dreams. He captained Andhra to two wins in as many Ranji Trophy matches, and batted his way back into form as well.

Hanuma Vihari scored two fifties in the victory over Haryana, which concluded at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. File picture   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

It proved a memorable fortnight for Hanuma Vihari in the city of dreams. He captained Andhra to two wins in as many Ranji Trophy matches, and batted his way back into form as well.

He scored two fifties in the victory over Haryana, which concluded at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. “Your team’s victory is more important than playing big knocks in losing causes, so those two half-centuries mean a lot to me,” Vihari told Sportstar. “I knew the runs would come from my bat and am glad that they came when my team needed them.”

Andhra is a new team for him, having played for Hyderabad all these years. “I was born in Andhra (Kakinada) so it’s a homecoming for me; and that was one of the main reasons of my decision to change teams,” said the 23-year-old. “I had no issues with Hyderabad, but I found joining – and leading – Andhra a challenge that I could enjoy.”

He added he was happy to captain what was a talented side. “It is a young team too and I think we could do really well in the Ranji Trophy after winning both the matches here in Mumbai,” he said. “But it is early days yet, as only four rounds of matches have been played so far.”

He said it was nice to note that just about everyone contributed to Andhra’s wins, which came after scoring just two points from the first two matches. “It was very much a team effort in Mumbai,” he said. “And it is great to see young players like all-rounder Ashwin Hebbar and Karthik Raman proving themselves.”

Yet, it was the bowling of medium pacer D. Siva Kumar and left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, who moved to Andhra from Baroda, which really proved crucial in the matches against Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana. From those two games, they picked up 14 wickets each.

“Siva and Bhargav were outstanding,” he said. “Though we have the rotation policy in place for pace bowlers, I would like to have Siva play in every match; he is one bowler whom you could go to at any stage. And Bhargav — along with Ravi Teja (who was my team-mate at Hyderabad) — has proved a right signing for Andhra this season.”

Andhra is now placed second in the table behind Haryana, which has only one point more. “The win against Haryana, which is such a strong team with an excellent bowling attack, was very gratifying,” he said. “But, the victory against Jammu earlier too was special, because we had to fight back after conceding a first-innings lead.”