Hanuma Vihari’s rearguard action on Monday in Sydney with a torn hamstring may have put on hold his Test career — he is likely to be ruled out of the fourth and final Test — but it has certainly put him on a high pedestal and vindicated the faith regular skipper Virat Kohli reposed in him before the series.
Kohli had said in a chat with Steve Smith before the series that Vihari was one player he was looking forward to during the Test series. The regular India skipper carries him overseas for the lower middle-order. More often than not, Vihari turns up some gritty knocks here and there. There could be a reason for Kohli’s liking for him and his grit.
The two overcame the same ordeal as youngsters. Kohli lost his father during a Ranji Trophy game when he was 18; Vihari lost his father when he was around 10. Kohli continued to play that Ranji game against Karnataka despite his father’s death in 2006. Vihari, too, returned on the third day of his father’s death to play a school final.
“He is very gritty. He turned up on the third day after his father’s death to play the school final and scored 80-odd runs. That was the determination he has right from his younger days. His mother has backed him to the hilt, surviving on a pension of his late father,” says his childhood coach John Manoj. “That was his first show of grit.”
The former right-handed Hyderabad batsman was a non-performer in the ongoing series until Monday, not just with the bat but also on the field as he dropped a sitter on the fourth morning of the third Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground to provide Marnus Labuschagne a life.
But Monday’s performance virtually on one leg — he faced 161 deliveries for just 23 and was the slowest ever in Test history to get to double digit — was deemed by stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane as more important than the Andhra batsman’s century against the West Indies at Kingston last year.
“I thought his knock was more special than his hundred, the way he batted after he got injured…there was pressure and the way he managed his batting — his injury especially — it was really special to see,” said Rahane after the match.
Vihari is not known to budge in face of challenges. He doesn’t have the flamboyant shots of any of players he is fighting for the No.6 spot — Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant — but he plays within his limitations. IANS