Hanuma Vihari enjoys Test cricket, but the India international also has a fair idea about the dynamics of Twenty20 (T20) cricket. Having featured in 24 Indian Premier League (IPL) fixtures — for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals — the 26-year-old understands the importance of time in the shortest format of the game.
“For batsmen, time depends on where you bat. If you bat at the top of the order, then you have a bit more time than the others who bat in the middle. It depends on the situation,” Vihari said on the Tissot presents Sportstar Extras T20 Time show.
“The top order has the advantage of taking a bit more time as compared to a finisher, who comes in at No. 6 or 7. He does not have the luxury of taking a couple of extra balls. He should get going from the beginning,” Vihari said.
Even though T20 cricket is considered a batsman’s game, the bowlers also have found ways to make things count. “For a bowler, it’s just four overs, but it’s also an opportunity for him. If he is a fast bowler, then he can go all out and try and pick wickets. The best way of defence is to attack and all the bowlers — even the spinners — are now trying to pick wickets rather than going for less runs,” Vihari said.
When he broke into the IPL for the Sunrisers in 2013, the team was captained by former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara. And during his conversations, a young Vihari would take some suggestions from the Sri Lankan legend on how to play in the longer format. “Even then I liked Test cricket a lot, so I would ask Kumar about his preparation before a Test match. Even he likes to hit a lot of balls to get that confidence before the match. So, our talks were more about Test cricket. Even in T20s, he kept things simple and played orthodox shots, which I liked. I had a great experience,” he said.
After the Test series against New Zealand in February this year, Vihari was planning to spend the off-season playing county cricket in England. But the plans had to be stalled due to the coronavirus pandemic. And now that the Indian team is set to tour Australia for a long series, which starts in November, Vihari is busy preparing.
“For me, preparation is the key. If I prepare well, then I am confident. I put a lot of hard work in preparation. If I know that I have prepared well, then I don’t take results too seriously,” he said.
“I have a game plan and try to assess the conditions and figure out what the bowlers are trying to do. After that, I don’t take results too seriously. A batsman needs to hit a lot of balls at the practice session and that’s something I try to do a month or so before a series begins. Now I have enough time to prepare for the Australia series, which I am doing right now. Although I have not played a match in the last six-seven months — we last played in February against New Zealand — I am still confident that if I can get into the groove, I can perform well,” the batsman said. When India toured Australia in 2018-19, it was a new experience for Vihari. He wants to make things count, this time, too.