Vijay Hazare Trophy: Vijay, Washington in Tamil Nadu team

Murali Vijay and Washington Sundar return to the Tamil Nadu squad for the rest of the matches in the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament.

Murali Vijay

File image of Murali Vijay with Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Murali Vijay and Washington Sundar return to the Tamil Nadu squad for the rest of the matches in the Vijay Hazare one-day tournament.

The two will replace top-order southpaw Hari Nishaanth and injured paceman Yo Mahesh.

Tamil Nadu, with 16 points from six matches, has three games — against Tripura, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana — remaining in the competition.

Off-spinning all-rounder Washington had been out of action from the time he injured his right ankle while playing football with his Indian team-mates during training in Ireland in June.

He said to Sportstar here on Monday, “It was a difficult period and getting through that phase has definitely made me mentally tougher. I was at the NCA for two months, I had to focus on my return and keep the negative thoughts away.”

Washington said returning to competitive cricket was a gradual process. “In the beginning it was tough for me to even walk. Then, I started jogging. The next step was to begin running. After that I had to run and quickly change directions and see how my ankle responded. Then I started bowling and to assess how my ankle withstood the load.”

The all-rounder said, “I am confident about my fitness now and looking forward to the season.”

It is learnt that there was an effort to get Washington fit before the Asia Cup but his recovery took a little longer. Now he is back in the hunt.

Vijay comes back into the state team after a successful stint with Essex in the English county championship that saw him make a hundred.

This will be an important season for Vijay, who has lost his place in the Indian team. Getting runs in one-day cricket could enable him to find a good batting rhythm ahead of the Ranji season.

It is understood the State selection panel and the team coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar wanted Vijay and Washington in the team as soon as they were available.

While it will be easy to fit Washington in the eleven for one of the two left-arm spinners, it would be interesting to see where Vijay bats.

Openers Abhinav Mukund and N. Jagadeesan, forming a left-right pair, have been among the runs. Vijay could be fitted in the middle-order.

Tamil Nadu is in a situation where it cannot afford to drop any points. The host has also got to hope that the other results go its way.