Laxman on Vihari opening the batting: Former Indian batsman has criticized India’s ploy of sending in Vihari as makeshift opener.
While a lot of cricket experts and fans were relieved to see India no longer persisting with out-of-form opening batsmen in Lokesh Rahul and Murali Vijay, former India batsman VVS Laxman appeared to be at odds with their replacements.
India had announced their playing XI for the Boxing Day Test a day before, something which didn’t seem to go well with Laxman. During an interaction with Nikhil Naz for ESPNcricinfo, Laxman expressed surprise at watching Vihari open the batting, feeling that it is unfair to the 25-year old.
“That’s where as a team management you invest and support a player [so that], the next Test he plays he can turn it around. It’s really unfair and unfortunate for Vihari to open in an international match. He was never done that in first-class cricket or any form of cricket,” Laxman was quoted as saying.
Adding to the surprise which he felt by India’s team selection, Laxman said, “I’m very surprised with the opening combination. Especially on this tour, where Australia have got three quality fast bowlers, the importance of playing out overs and seeing off the new ball so that the middle-order batsmen can come and play their style of cricket. So, I am surprised.”
Citing Rahul’s struggle with his confidence, Laxman was of the opinion that Vijay could have been persisted for another match. “While Mayank Agarwal would have been an automatic choice, particularly when keeping in mind that Prithvi Shaw is out of the series and KL Rahul is struggling with his confidence level, I felt that Murali Vijay showed a glimpse of what Murali Vijay can do,” Laxman added.
With Chief Selector MSK Prasad stating that Vihari as an opening batsman in not a long-term solution, one wonders as to how many opportunities will he get at the top of the order. Upon not performing, whether he will again be given a go in the middle-order will be interesting to watch.
A middle-order batsman himself, Laxman had also opened the innings for a brief period in his career. In 15 matches as an opening batsman, Laxman had scored 685 runs at an average of 28.54 and a strike rate of 46.31. While his maiden Test century, 167 (198), with the help of 27 fours, against Australia at Sydney in 2000 had come as an opener, there weren’t many other performance to boast about at the top of the order.
Read some of the latest Twitter reactions on Vihari below:
A positive sign, or is Hanuma Vihari not the answer to India’s opening troubles? #AUSvIND
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) December 26, 2018
Bouncer #1 — Hanuma Vihari doesn’t duck down in time and gets hit on the helmet
Bouncer #2 — Hanuma Vihari fends it away awkwardly off the glove, straight to second slip
Pat Cummins draws first blood for the Aussies | Vihari: 8 (66) | IND: 40/1 (19) #AUSvIND
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) December 26, 2018
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 26, 2018
Both players opening for the first time in a Test (India):
J Navle – N Jaoomal, Lord’s, 1932 (Test #1)
V Merchant – D Hindlekar, Lord’s, 1936 (Test #5)
H Vihari – M Agarwal, MCG, 2018 (Test #532) **#AUSvIND
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) December 25, 2018