Hanuma Vihari set for county debut: The Indian batsman will the most of his time after remaining unsold in IPL 2021 auction.
India batsman Hanuma Vihari is all set to become the only (so far) cricketer from India to play in the forthcoming LV= Insurance County Championship season. Vihari, 27, will represent Warwickshire in his maiden county stint as South Africa batsman Pieter Malan’s replacement.
Malan, 31, is certain to not reach the UK on time due to a delay in visa process which is a ramification of South Africa getting categorised as a “red list” country by the UK government with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having last played in the Indian Premier League in 2019 for Delhi Capitals, Vihari had remained unsold in the next two auctions. The only Indian Test regular to not have an IPL deal, a maiden county stint is an ideal time for Vihari to prepare ahead of the ICC World Test Championship final and a Test series in England.
Lauded for his heroics in the New Year’s Test against Australia which powered India to a historic draw, Vihari hasn’t played international cricket since then due to a hamstring injury. Leading Andhra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy after regaining fitness, Vihari registered a shambolic season scoring 74 runs in six innings at an average of 12.33.
Thanks for all the love and concern over the past few days, will come back stronger! 💪 pic.twitter.com/YXOKy3cgPf
— Hanuma vihari (@Hanumavihari) January 13, 2021
Hanuma Vihari set for county debut with Warwickshire deal
As of now, there is no confirmation from Warwickshire regarding signing Vihari. Having said that, a source close to the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has confirmed the development laying emphasis on Vihari’s match practice ahead of a crucial summer season in England.
“Yes, [Hanuma] Vihari will be playing for Warwickshire this season. He would play a few games. He is already in England now. He will play a minimum of three games. We are trying to figure out if there is a chance to play a few more. With a curtailed domestic season this time [in India] and Vihari being a part of the Test side, he needs match practice,” the source was quoted as saying by PTI.
However, according to ESPNcricinfo, Vihari is yet to travel to the UK. While Vihari is most likely to miss Warwickshire’s season opener against Derbyshire in Birmingham from April 8, he should take field in the matches that follow this month.
“All his other Test colleagues are part of the IPL teams. Even if it’s white ball games, they will be fit and match-ready. But we need to ensure that Vihari also gets game time before the England tour. It’s not just one World Test Championship final but it’s followed by a full-fledged five-Test series. We need him ready,” the source added.