What’s the story?
A phone-call to former Indian captain and India-A coach Rahul Dravid on the eve of the Oval Test helped him ease his nerves, reckoned Hanuma Vihari. The Andra Pradesh batsman who averages a staggering 59.79 in First Class cricket kicked-off his Test career with a defiant half-century (56) to take India out of troubled waters in the fifth Test at the Oval.
On the influence of Rahul Dravid:-
I called him [Dravid] the day before I made my debut and told him I was making my debut. He spoke to me for a couple of minutes and gave his inputs and I thought it eased my nerves a little bit, because it is coming from a legend and you know that you belong here. He just told me that you have the skillset, you have the mindset and the temperament, just go out there and enjoy yourself. I would like to give him a lot of credit for that because my journey with India A was very important for me to come here, because not only that I performed there, but the way he gave us inputs, that made me a better player.
Vihari came in at a precarious situation with India having lost Cheteshwar Pujara (37) and Ajinkya Rahane (0) fell to Jamie Anderson in quick succession and reeling at 4-103 in pursuit of England’s 332. Anderson bowled it full and swung it away. Vihari leaned forward and dead batted it showing his resolve to succeed at this level. He had a few close calls against Broad with the inducer last evening but today the Andra batsman looked imperious. He was far more balanced in his technique and together with Jadeja stitched a valuable 77-run stand to take India close to England’s target.
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Vihari on his debut innings
“Initially, I felt the pressure,” he said. “I was nervous. Nerves make you do unusual things. If I settle down nicely, I don’t think any ball will cause me trouble. On Saturday, I had problems facing the incoming delivery but Virat gave me some cues so that I could play it comfortably. But once I settled down, the wicket was good to bat on.”
The member of India’s 2012 U-19 World Cup winning team, Vihari has just played in two IPL seasons- 2013 and 2015.
“If I get picked in the IPL, I will definitely play,” he said. “But my only route coming into the Indian team is grinding through the domestic circuit. I have to score big runs to be recognized. Also, I’m coming from Andhra. People don’t recognize those states as much as the other states. So I try to get big scores, I try to bat patiently.”