Former Indian spinner Pragyan Ojha has opined that Hanuma Vihari needs to get a good sum of runs on board in the upcoming four-match Test series against Australia. He reasoned that as the right-hand batsman features only in Test cricket, he has lone format to prove his mettle. Thus, he feels that the much-awaited Test series is extremely important for Hanuma Vihari to maintain his spot in the team.
While talking to India Today, Pragyan Ojha observed that Vihari neither features in the Indian Premier League (IPL) nor the shorter formats for the Indian team and choosing to be the Test specialist earlier in his career has it’s both pros and cons.
“Hanuma Vihari, this boy doesn’t feature in IPL, doesn’t feature in limited-overs for the national side. Being a Test specialist at the starting point of his career, it has both advantages and disadvantages,” Pragyan Ojha told Sports Today.
Ojha believes that scoring runs in a foreign land is a big achievement but at the same time, it doesn’t earn fame. He reckons that those who play IPL like Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav are always in the discussion but Vihari doesn’t get that exposure.
“If you perform in Test cricket, especially abroad you earn respect. But on the flip side, your name is not circulating in that zone, a lot of people keep discussing the likes of Rishabh Pant, Ishan Kishan or Suryakumar Yadav because they are performing on a platform where a lot of people are watching. It’s the truth,” he said.
Pragyan Ojha iterated that the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2019-20 is a good chance for Vihari to establish himself in the format. He believes that the century for Vihari in the warm-up game will be a confidence booster but he needs to replicate the same performance in the maiden pink ball game between India and Australia.
“I feel this series is very important for Hanuma Vihari. India will not have Virat Kohli, those are big shoes to be filled. Vihari got a brilliant hundred (pink-ball warm-up). But it is not going to be easy, especially in the pink-ball Test. He has to perform consistently well to survive there.”
Hanuma Vihari doing the thankless job: Pragyan Ojha
Ojha draws a parallel of Hanuma Vihari’s career with that of former Indian great VVS Laxman, stating that both were Test specialists. As Laxman was not regular in limited over, Vihari has also not yet played for India in ODIs and T20Is. So, the former spinner feels that the 27-year-old needs to get runs in every game.
“He is someone like VVS Laxman, I would say. Every game Laxman played used to be p[ay was a very important game for himself because he was a Test specialist. He has to consistently perform to be in the reckoning because he is not a regular in the limited-overs format. It’s become important for him to deliver in every game he plays,” he adds.
Ojha further cautions that if Hardik Pandya returns in the Test set up, Hanuma Vihari might be overlooked if he doesn’t remain consistent. He further adds that Vihari is doing a thankless job.
“At home conditions, it becomes difficult for him to play because India play an extra spinner. And if Hardik Pandya starts bowling, he straightaway walks in.
“It’s a very thankless job. A young boy like Hanuma Vihari, if he is getting runs he will be picked, but if he doesn’t get runs or the team doesn’t do well, the first one who will be on the line will be Hanuma Vihari,” Pragyan Ojha Concluded.
Meanwhile, the Test series will begin on December 18 in Adelaide.