Hanuma Vihari: Upbeat after Windies’ tour, raring to take on Proteas

Hanuma Vihari, Test cricket, batting all-rounder, India tour of West Indies, South Africa tour of India, Proteas, Andhra skipper, Virat Kohli
The partnership between Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin was as significant in import, if not magnitude, as the one between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in Kolkata in 2001. | File Photo: PTI

After being instrumental in clinching the Test series for India in the Calypso land last month, Hanuma Vihari now looks to make a solid blueprint with impactful innings against South Africa at ACA–VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam from Wednesday (October 2).

After the outstanding innings in West Indies, the 25-year-old batting all-rounder cemented his spot for the three-Test series against Proteas.

Talking to The Federal exclusively, the Indian star-in-the-making felt that one will have to change one’s game depending on the pitch and the strength of the opponent. He opined that in the sub-continent, there were situations when bowlers dominated and small technicalities can bring about a lot of difference.

“In the home conditions, bowlers take charge. The entire team should be on its feet. Knowing South African pace attack, which is at its best, I am preparing mentally and accordingly tuning up my practice sessions,” he said.

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“There will be changes in my technical approach against the Proteas’ pacers when compared with my tactics against the Windies. Small things like changing guard and the batting stance would matter a lot. Depending upon the requirements, those will change,” he added.

Also read: Rohit starts Test life, Saha replaces Pant in India vs SA opener

Asked about his maiden and match-winning Test ton, the jubilant batter said, “I was really happy because my innings helped the team win the Test and clinch the series. Mainly, those moments were morale-boosting for me as I wanted to cement my spot in the Test team. This has been my dream for a long time and I hope to fare well against South Africa and in future Tests if I get the opportunity to play for the country.”

As someone once said, “The first is always the best.” Hanuma made the best use of his first opportunity to play overseas in West Indies. “I got used to the conditions as I have played for India A against the Windies A. Being patient and leaving the bad balls came with experience. I attribute it to the hard work of the last 4-5 years,” he said.

Hanuma’s career has been an amalgamation of highs and lows. In the domestic circuit, he is one of the best batting all-rounders. In the long format, it is important to have patience and the batter should be able to judge the balls perfectly, a task in which the Andhra captain is a master.

Also read: I treat every Test as my last, says Andhra batsman Hanuma Vihari

His emphatic form last year in the domestic circuit helped him travel to England for the series in which he scored a modest 56. And since then he has played 6 Test matches with an average of 45.60.

Also in Australia, he rescued the team from defeat by scoring 111 runs in three matches. But, against South Africa, he opines that there will be small changes when it comes to techniques and strategies.

Cut to May, he was selected for India A team against West Indies A. He made a bigger impact on the ‘A’ team. There wasn’t much hullabaloo when he made it to the senior team and got to play against the Windies.

It’s important to be fit for an all-rounder and Hanuma is working on his fitness because he also looks to squeeze in as the sixth bowler for the team. “I can bowl 10 overs for now but with more practice and enhanced fitness levels, I can improve on the number of overs I can deliver,” the Andhra skipper concluded.

In the post-match presser after India’s tour of West Indies, skipper Virat Kohli hailed Hanuma for his patience and never-say-die-attitude and added that he would be the right man to balance the middle-order muddle.

He also hailed the Andhra captain for his ability to understand the game which led India to the top in the all-new World Test Championship’s points table.

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