It feels like a sequel: Hanuma Vihari ready for England series

On March 29, Hanuma Vihari was tweeting about the infamous Dhaka traffic when most of his India team mates were ringing in their power game in the IPL. To miss out on IPL action can be discouraging if you are a contracted India player. But Vihari knew he had to find ways to stay in shape, stay in form for his next assignment – the fifth Test at Edgbaston of the England series that India leads 2-1.

“So I went to Dhaka and played 50 overs cricket after a while. After that I went to Chennai and played five two-day games. I have tried to play as many games as possible to stay match fit,” he said in an interview.

Vihari was speaking at the launch of ‘Bandon main tha dum’ a docu-series on India’s 2020-21 heroic Test series win in Australia to come on Voot Select. One would have thought Vihari would get a decent run of Test matches after his battling 161-ball stonewalling effort in the Sydney Test in the final innings, where he batted with a strapped right hamstring. But he’s featured in only 3 of the 17 Tests India has played since. “I don’t think of the past and the future,” he said. “I only think about that Test match that I play. I try to keep it as simple as possible. Try my best to succeed. If I can’t, I go back and try to do it again in the next opportunity.”

An opportunity to cement his Test spot came in last year’s home series against New Zealand where Vihari batted at the coveted No.3 position, with Cheteshwar Pujara dropped for form. “It was a great opportunity. To bat at No.3 for India is a privilege and I enjoyed the two matches that I played in,” he said.

But things don’t get any easier. With Pujara back in the squad for Edgbaston, Vihari’s 124 runs in three innings, including a 50 at No.3 may not be enough. “I am quite comfortable to bat in whichever position the team wants me to bat in. I have been coming up and down the order. At the end of the day, you just have to adapt. For me, it’s only the situation of the game that changes,” he said.

That the England series will be completed after 10 months under two new captains (Rohit Sharma and Ben Stokes), Vihari says ‘it feels like a sequel.’

“You have played one year ago and now you are playing the final Test. It’s come to a climax now. It’s an important landmark for us to win a Test series in England. After winning in Australia, to win in England will be the icing on the cake. Everyone is aware of it and gearing up to try and win the Test and the series.”

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