The last 18 months have been absolutely phenomenal for India’s solid opener M.Vijay. India in this span, might not have achieved the desired results in test matches, but the Virat Kohli led side has surely got one priceless diamond in its ranks. The diamond is none other than the elegant M. Vijay, who has been in great form. A hamstring injury cut down Vijay’s tour of Sri Lanka, but he is determined to be back in style against the visiting South African side. In an interview with TOI, Vijay opened up about the upcoming test series. Below are the excerpts from his interview.

How have your preparations been ahead of the South Africa series?

I am in a great space mentally and have been practicing hard for the series. I am really looking forward to the battle against the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. South Africa have always been a good side and I see this series as a good challenge. I have gained full fitness now and I’m keen on getting the side off to a good start.

Your knock of 97 runs against the Proteas in Durban during the 2013-14 Test series would surely give you confidence?

Doing well against a quality attack like South Africa gives you a lot of satisfaction. For me, it has always been about providing a great start to the team and I am happy to do the job each time I walk out to bat. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing you and your partner offer the side a strong platform.

Talk to us about the camaraderie you share with Shikhar Dhawan…

I think we both have been great friends off the field and we share a great rapport. The strong bond that we share comes through when we both go in to bat. We both understand each other very well and know each other’s style of batting.

Do you both keenly observe each other’s batting to point out if either of you is struggling during the middle of an innings?

Oh yes, we do. We communicate with each other and constantly keep one another motivated. We let each other know what a bowler is trying to do, when to accelerate or keep calm.

One often sees you concentrate for prolonged periods of time. Have you diligently worked on that aspect of your game?

Absolutely. I work hard on staying in the moment and shutting everything else off. Concentration is a crucial element of batting. The trick is to switch on and off. When I am at the non-striker’s end, I look at what my partner is doing and try to enjoy his batting. When my turn comes to bat I concentrate hard on the next ball. I ensure that there isn’t much fluctuation in my levels of concentration at various periods of my batting. So, I focus as hard as I can and it doesn’t matter if I am on 0 or 100.

Quotes credits: Times of India