Murali Vijay, off late, by virtue of his steady performance, has been able to cement his place as a dependable opener in the Indian cricket team. He is seemingly ready to play his part in the ongoing series against Australia. Although he had made his mark in the year 2008, but was not able to truly show the spark before Australia’s tour in 2013. On this tour he impressed one and all with his talent for big scores. Ever since, he has grown in leaps and bounds. He has already displayed his batting skills when he played some ground breaking innings over the last one year viz. 97 at Durban, followed by his first overseas ton at Nottingham and a 95 at Lords.
Certainly, he hopes to carry on with the rhythm he gained from England tour into Australia, and the way he has shown a glimpse of sensible batting in first innings at Adelaide, we might be able to see a lot of fireworks from him till the World Cup. Although he could not convert his reasonably good score into a real big inning in the first Test in Adelaide against Australia, he has expressed his willingness and determination to stay focused. He said, “I started off really well and I was set to get a big one. But two over before lunch there was a lapse in concentration. That’s one thing I have to work on. Hopefully this start will help us a team and me individually to move forward in a positive way”.
He believes that the difference between playing on docile wickets at home to the venomous ones in countries such as Australia is more of a mental set up than that of a technical aspect. He narrated, “I think more than technical it is about being mentally prepared. We all really want to do well abroad. We have done it well in patches in the last year or so but haven’t been able to do it consistently enough to win the series. So, before coming here and leading up to the series not only me but everyone in the team worked on our mindset to be able to handle the bounce and cope with the conditions.”
Vijay felt that he went into a shell on the brink of lunch and ran into a safety mode rather than playing instinctively as he had done before, which proved to be to a reason for his downfall. He admitted, “It didn’t affect my footwork as such. I was consciously looking to play out till lunch and went into a defensive mindset. That’s one thing I have to be careful about in the future. I should have continued to play the way I was playing rather than getting into that mode.”
Vijay, who has learnt to balance between attack and defense, understood the importance of footwork and timing, recollects, “What I’ve learned in the last eight-nine months is that you cannot always play by instincts. I’ve realized that as an opening batsman, I cannot say, ‘Okay, this is how I know how to play and I will stick to it’. It might work for someone but for me it doesn’t. I’ve just got to curb my instincts and be prepared to play out of my character. I learned that lesson in South Africa and then did well in New Zealand. I put all that experience in use when we went to England. We went their early and I had the time to figure out what would work for me in these conditions. The century (146) at Trent Bridge strengthened my confidence a great deal. It told me that I can play out of character and score runs for the team. It is especially satisfying to successfully do something that doesn’t come naturally to you.”
On a personal note, I strongly believe that his role in laying a solid foundation will prove to be very crucial for team India. I wish he should stay focused and consisten,t and pave the way for winning the world cup.