India in England 2014 July 23, 2014

Vijay rediscovers the old Monk

The leave outside off stump has been critical to M Vijay's success since his India comeback last year. Contrary to popular opinion, such patience and self-denial comes naturally to him
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Play 03:08
Chappell: Epitome of a fighting knock from Vijay

M Vijay is the highest run-getter in this series so far. Surprise. He has scored more than Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ian Bell and Alastair Cook put together. Surprise. His strike-rate is under 40, and he has not offered a shot to 315 balls out of the 922 he has faced. No surprise. However, commentators and observers have been surprised, hailing this effort of 317 runs in four innings so far as Vijay's going against his natural game. Those who have followed Vijay's progress know this is his natural game in first-class cricket. Although for entirely different reasons, Vijay is, after all, nicknamed Monk.

Since he came back to Test cricket, in the series against Australia in early 2013, Vijay has left alone more balls than any other batsman, even though six of his 12 Tests over the period have been played in India where you don't really need to leave that much. Offering no shot to 620 out of 2281 balls he has faced in these 12 matches, his leaving rate of 27% is higher than anyone else's in Test cricket, among batsmen who have faced at least 1000 balls; Alastair Cook is just behind with 25%. The runs haven't always followed - he didn't get a century in either South Africa or New Zealand - but he has been getting out to either corkers or strangles down the leg side. Now that the runs have accompanied the effort, the world has finally taken notice.

When Vijay finally got out for 95 in the second innings at Lord's, desperately short of what would have been a memorable hundred on a green pitch tailor-made for the home side, he had for the first time in six away Tests done so playing a nothing push at a ball he would have been better off leaving. This shot wasn't a drive or a punch. Had he middled it he would have sent this back to the bowler or cover. A no-win shot, everyone knows, but darned difficult to avoid, especially for openers. This was a shot most likely brought out by the nerves just before such a big hundred; when the heart is trying to rip its way out of the chest you need to feel bat on ball.

That was also Vijay's first such dismissal in this leg of away Tests; this is exactly the shot he has been successful at avoiding. He has been, as the stats establish, leaving exceptionally well. Leaving is a natural, and a technical, thing. The mind needs to be comfortable not feeling ball on bat for long periods. The back foot needs to go towards the off stump so you judge better which ones you can leave, and so that you at least make the umpire rule you lbw as opposed to leaving your stumps prone should the ball jag back after landing on the seam or hitting a crack. Vijay's back foot goes across. Even Pujara's doesn't go. Kohli was bowled leaving alone at Lord's. Rohit Sharma did that at Kingsmead in the last Test of the last year.

Vijay also has a temperament needed to play that game. He likes to be in a bubble. Just watch the ball, retreat to square leg, then come back and watch the ball again. Even when he hits a four he sees the ball through to the fence instead of running up and down and loosening the limbs a little. He is not much for knocking gloves or long talks between overs either. He can wait for deliveries that are easy to score off. Even after he had finished his hundred at Trent Bridge, he went 38 deliveries without a run when England bowled well with the second new ball.

Yet Vijay carries a reputation he is supposed to battle against. It is possibly borne out of his IPL exploits; during his most successful days in IPL, over a period of four years, he scored as many IPL centuries as he did in first-class cricket: two. IPL possibly had an impact on his long-form game. When you are playing all three formats and haven't established yourself in any yet, it can mess with your game. Before IPL he was a scorer of big hundreds in first-class cricket; having made his way back, he is the same again.

Vijay says uncertainty didn't help either. Before the comeback that started against Australia, he had played 12 Tests over three years, all thanks to the unavailability of either Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag. He might have even sulked a little. He scored 87 against Sri Lanka when Gambhir was away for his sister's wedding, but didn't get the next game. He got 139 against Australia when Gambhir was injured, but the next match he got was much later, on a greentop similar to Lord's, in Durban.

It is justified to feel unsettled by uncertainty to an extent, but most international careers go through this at the start. Nobody comes in with a right to play a certain number of matches before he can be discarded. To be fair to him, Vijay hasn't made a big deal out of it. And fittingly, he has established himself as a worthy India opener on a track similar to one where he got the opportunity in 2010. And a win similar to that too.

Ajinkya Rahane and Bhuvneshwar Kumar provided the early blows, Ravindra Jadeja gave India the war dance, Ishant Sharma and MS Dhoni sealed the deal, but in between Vijay's calming 95, spread over two crucial days, went under-noticed. He is not in bad company in that regard. Eighteen years ago, at the same venue, two Indians playing their first Test at Lord's charmed the world. One got a hundred, the other 95.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • IndCricFan2013 on July 23, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    I was thinking the same, the 1995 test match that Dravid got 95, I was watching on the Ground and was the only one among my colleagues disappointed for Dravid, those days, everyone else came to watch Sachin and they were disappointed, since Sachin did not score much. In a way Vijay is starting to do what Rahul Dravid did for years, i.e., play as many ball as possible, grind the opposition bowlers, so that the likes of Kohli and Rahane can score runs, similar to how the likes of Sachin did with the help of Dravid. It takes at least half the team (5;Rahane, Kumar, Jadeja, Ishant and Vijay; 2 batters, 2 bowlers, 1 all-rounder) and a good captaincy to win a test match. We would rather win the match with 5 hero's than create another Sachin and Dravid. In order for the test match to go 5 days, there is a hero in each innings on both the teams. So, there are as many as 4 super hero's and some supporting hero's, to make the match a great one. England missed out on the 4th Innings hero.

  • on July 30, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    He is good in test since last year.i hope he will do better in the going series with England

  • Alberteinstien on July 25, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    Play Ashwin in place of Dhawan and Pankaj in place of binny.Ashwin is a better opener than Dhawan. Had Dhawan batted in no. 8 he would not even averaged even 20.Batting at no.8 is harmful to career average.Had don bradman batted at no.8 he would have scored 0,20,60,30notout,40notout instead of 0,20,60,150and 250 which was his general trend.In first case he would have averaged 150/3 =50 In 2nd case(batting at no.3) he would have averaged 480/5=96.Some people think that not out scores increases the average but actualy its opposite of that. When you get set and you are not able to complete the innings than your career average decreases.

  • y4yoga on July 25, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    It would be a boost to Vijay If he gets the ODI opener spot too....

  • vivekk83 on July 24, 2014, 19:26 GMT

    Siddarth, your articles have become a must read for me and thanks for writing this one. People have become so used to the fast food culture, the appreciation for classic test match batting has dwindled. i liked sehwag for his amazing ability, but dravid is my all time favourite because of what he got to the team- The great wall. Vijay is no way a Dravid, but has certainly found a way to provide the much necessary platform for the likes of kohli and iffy batsmen jaddu and Dhoni. An opener must be credited if eats out 90 deliveries but doesn't score much, esp on a tricky surface. Vijay has been continously doing this albeit without runs since the OZ series at Home. the runs have come this series and the world is taking notice. The challenge lies ahead for Vijay to not have this success get the better of him. If he wins the mind game, India have certainly earthed a gem of an opening batsman

  • on July 24, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    Sehwag won't be back. But surely Yuvraj will be as without him we can't have any chance in upcoming world cup.

  • on July 24, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    Vijay's batting performance is excellent. I think he may got ODI chances....India will win both test & ODI series. My ODI Squad: 1. Vijay. 2. Dhawan. 3. Kholi. 4. Gambir. 5. Rahane 6. R.Sharma. 7. Suresh Raina 8. Bujara 9. MSD 10. Ashwin. 11. Jadeja. 12. Bhuvi. 13.M.Sharma 14. M.Shami.15. Binny

  • SudeepSonawane on July 24, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Congrats Monga for quantifying Vijay's success in this series. His methodical batting has not received much praise. This article puts into perspective his contribution for India. Indeed, Vijay and Pujara have frustrated this England attack by their 'leaves' while gathering runs patiently. Our lower order batsmen notably Bhuvi, Binny and Shami were smart to learn from Vijay. Jadeja too tried leaves, but failed so he resorted to swordsmanship in the second innings at Lord's. It worked luckily. Clearly the Vijay tactic is the way forward for batsmen from both teams to succeed in the remaining Tests.

  • on July 24, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    He is nick named as MONK cuz he use to shave his head non stop during RANJI days not for other reasons Very happy to c Vijay succeeding against odds , continue

  • PERIYAA on July 24, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    Good Analysis. Good player.

  • IndCricFan2013 on July 23, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    I was thinking the same, the 1995 test match that Dravid got 95, I was watching on the Ground and was the only one among my colleagues disappointed for Dravid, those days, everyone else came to watch Sachin and they were disappointed, since Sachin did not score much. In a way Vijay is starting to do what Rahul Dravid did for years, i.e., play as many ball as possible, grind the opposition bowlers, so that the likes of Kohli and Rahane can score runs, similar to how the likes of Sachin did with the help of Dravid. It takes at least half the team (5;Rahane, Kumar, Jadeja, Ishant and Vijay; 2 batters, 2 bowlers, 1 all-rounder) and a good captaincy to win a test match. We would rather win the match with 5 hero's than create another Sachin and Dravid. In order for the test match to go 5 days, there is a hero in each innings on both the teams. So, there are as many as 4 super hero's and some supporting hero's, to make the match a great one. England missed out on the 4th Innings hero.

  • on July 30, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    He is good in test since last year.i hope he will do better in the going series with England

  • Alberteinstien on July 25, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    Play Ashwin in place of Dhawan and Pankaj in place of binny.Ashwin is a better opener than Dhawan. Had Dhawan batted in no. 8 he would not even averaged even 20.Batting at no.8 is harmful to career average.Had don bradman batted at no.8 he would have scored 0,20,60,30notout,40notout instead of 0,20,60,150and 250 which was his general trend.In first case he would have averaged 150/3 =50 In 2nd case(batting at no.3) he would have averaged 480/5=96.Some people think that not out scores increases the average but actualy its opposite of that. When you get set and you are not able to complete the innings than your career average decreases.

  • y4yoga on July 25, 2014, 2:48 GMT

    It would be a boost to Vijay If he gets the ODI opener spot too....

  • vivekk83 on July 24, 2014, 19:26 GMT

    Siddarth, your articles have become a must read for me and thanks for writing this one. People have become so used to the fast food culture, the appreciation for classic test match batting has dwindled. i liked sehwag for his amazing ability, but dravid is my all time favourite because of what he got to the team- The great wall. Vijay is no way a Dravid, but has certainly found a way to provide the much necessary platform for the likes of kohli and iffy batsmen jaddu and Dhoni. An opener must be credited if eats out 90 deliveries but doesn't score much, esp on a tricky surface. Vijay has been continously doing this albeit without runs since the OZ series at Home. the runs have come this series and the world is taking notice. The challenge lies ahead for Vijay to not have this success get the better of him. If he wins the mind game, India have certainly earthed a gem of an opening batsman

  • on July 24, 2014, 17:00 GMT

    Sehwag won't be back. But surely Yuvraj will be as without him we can't have any chance in upcoming world cup.

  • on July 24, 2014, 13:17 GMT

    Vijay's batting performance is excellent. I think he may got ODI chances....India will win both test & ODI series. My ODI Squad: 1. Vijay. 2. Dhawan. 3. Kholi. 4. Gambir. 5. Rahane 6. R.Sharma. 7. Suresh Raina 8. Bujara 9. MSD 10. Ashwin. 11. Jadeja. 12. Bhuvi. 13.M.Sharma 14. M.Shami.15. Binny

  • SudeepSonawane on July 24, 2014, 12:46 GMT

    Congrats Monga for quantifying Vijay's success in this series. His methodical batting has not received much praise. This article puts into perspective his contribution for India. Indeed, Vijay and Pujara have frustrated this England attack by their 'leaves' while gathering runs patiently. Our lower order batsmen notably Bhuvi, Binny and Shami were smart to learn from Vijay. Jadeja too tried leaves, but failed so he resorted to swordsmanship in the second innings at Lord's. It worked luckily. Clearly the Vijay tactic is the way forward for batsmen from both teams to succeed in the remaining Tests.

  • on July 24, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    He is nick named as MONK cuz he use to shave his head non stop during RANJI days not for other reasons Very happy to c Vijay succeeding against odds , continue

  • PERIYAA on July 24, 2014, 11:31 GMT

    Good Analysis. Good player.

  • asmitab on July 24, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Really awesome article..!! Much deserved knock n praise for Murali Vijay.

    And this was The Best...

    Eighteen years ago, at the same venue, two Indians playing their first Test at Lord's charmed the world. One got a hundred, the other 95!!

  • on July 24, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    The interesting thing is, so far the Indian Big Guns haven't really fired.. Dhawan, Pujara and Kohli. Even so, India are still ahead.

    As an England fan this worries me. Now, if the Indian team also to the sensible thing and bring in Ashwin for Binny I'd be even more worried. I dread to think what a decent spinner might to to England in their current state.

  • on July 24, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    Bring Back Irfan Pathan...we need a strong all round who can bat and pce bower asl well....

  • on July 24, 2014, 9:13 GMT

    My preferred ODI squad :

    1. Vijay. 2. Shewag. 3. Kholi. 4. yuvi. 5. Rahena/R.Sharma. 6. MSD 7. Ashwin. 8. Jaddu. 9. Bhuvi. 10.zaheer. 11. M.Sharma/ishant/M.Shami.

  • on July 24, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    Vijay well batted.

    My test preferred test squad :

    1. Vijay. 2. Shewag. 3. Pujara. 4. Kholi. 5. Rahena. 6. Dhoni. 7. Ashwin. 8. Jaddu. 9. Bhuvi. 10 and 11ishant/m.sharma/i.pandey/m.shami.

  • ladycricfan on July 24, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Dhawan was striking fluently during his 31 in the 2nd innings. Unfortunate to get out to a brilliant catch by Root. Vijay's and Dhawan's contrasting batting styles complement each other. Dhawan had a good NZ series with a 100 and 98. He has 6 more innings to get some big scores.

  • on July 24, 2014, 8:45 GMT

    I remember people calling for Vijay's head and portrayed him as flat pitch bully and he is useless in foreign conditions. See how Vijay has silenced all the critics that includes those people who passed comments in cricinfo in the last 12 months... The time will change always.. Remember Vijay so far played only less than 20 tests...

  • on July 24, 2014, 8:15 GMT

    @y4yoga, Ashwin can't open permanently for tests. He can be tried in limited over games though. Ashwin is more suitable for 6 or 7 which pertains to all rounders. We need specialist opener. It is better to hold on with Dhawan for couple of matches, if not clicked, then go for Gambhir or should promote Rahane as opener in whose place bringing in Rohit would make sense.

  • anver777 on July 24, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    VIJAY (victory) for IND in the 2nd test was well achieved.... few more IND victories are on the card, against this panicked & no confidence ENG !!!

  • srikanths on July 24, 2014, 7:04 GMT

    Yeah Vijay discovers Old monk and unfortunately Al Cook discovers King"fisher" .Cook has to rediscover his old Mojo to get Eng back on track

  • y4yoga on July 24, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    Why People want Gambir?( Not against his Talent) But He is almost 33 now. He will have some couple of years in cricket, after that we need to find another one? What if Ashwin Opening along with Vijay?, ALternatively You can fill the spot of Binny with a Seamer. Isnt' it. 4 Seamers, 2 Spinners in Team, I mean 2 Seamers( Shami and Pankaj/Aron/Pandey), 1 Seaming All Rounder(Bhuvi), 2 Spinning Allrounders( Ashwin and Jaddu), While Ashwin(Who is already an opener in 1st class) can give a solid partnership along with vijay in the top, Jaddu can give some Quicks at the bottom. There wont be a question of whether 3 seamers or 4, or 2 spinners or 1. Every spot will be filled with ease. Finally Afterall MSD will have all his choice and variety whatever and whenever he needs... Any one agree to this?

  • on July 24, 2014, 6:47 GMT

    vijay classic & best opener indian team, i like to see him next indian odi squad

  • ramz30380 on July 24, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    @ Calvin Palmer Warbah - I am sure you are one jealous person who wants nothing but failures for India - ur statement is a proof of tht! U want the best batsman of the series to be dropped?! Scoring on those green tops is one hell of a thing - Sehwag was a diff kind of batsman - u cant expect everyone to be like him and right now he is well past his prime - so there is no chance of him making a comeback! Gambhir yes, but Sehwag no!

  • ladycricfan on July 24, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    Players like AB and Kohli can adapt to all three formats. For some others ODI, T20 instincts will interfere with their test performance. Like Vijay, Cook should also concentrate on Tests only. For " The art of leaving" , study Vijay's book. Picture perfect.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on July 24, 2014, 5:24 GMT

    India's victory at Lord's was a true team effort- at least 5 outstanding performances, apart from Pujara's priceless 28 that saw off the new ball in the first innings.

  • on July 24, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    And here I though the article was all about how Vijay was scoring runs after drinking tons of the very famous Old Monk rum(to help with his game and battle the English chill), titles can be very deceptive. Old monk or not he's batting beautifully with a lot of patience, players like Dhawan and Kohli can take a leaf out of Vijay's book.

  • on July 24, 2014, 4:49 GMT

    Pl drop Vijay...bring in either sanju Samson or a hard hitting batsman upfront because a team always needs a quick start no matter what are the conditions. bring back sehwag or any warner like batsman. it's doomsday for Indian cricket if Vijay keeps on playing for India. oh yes Pl drop ishant Sharma as well coz he's a fluke kinda player.

  • TATTUs on July 24, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    Good for Vijay. I liked his batting when he opened against Australia after a double ton in Ranji. He batted for 39 with a lot of patience and technique. He lofted the offspinner too. But after than he joined the IPL and hit a slam bang 120 odd. It is after this knock that he just lost the way and thought he was a superstar. he always had the technique. But I felt after that IPL 100 he was losing that technique too. Good to see him working hard to be a good test player.

  • on July 24, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    Never imagined Vijay could play like this. He has truly impressed.

  • on July 24, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    Key to success is patience. Work hard, wait for your time. Dravid has proved that. Hard work always pays. Talk less, less bat do the talking.

  • on July 24, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    @Greatest_game: :) yes virat has not scored so does he need to be dropped? he's the only indian batsman in the squad that the English dont want to find form. if he scores in the next test everyone will go gaga over him. indian bowlers always have higher averages wherever they bowl. I don't know whether its the lack of discipline or they try too much. bhuvi is an exception. The team is settling down after two challenging tours to SA and NZ. everyone are playing the same way as they played in SA and NZ. I say the seeds of hardwork were sown there and now they have started seeing results - as a team! we need rotation of bowlwrrs based on pitch conditions but we have to have 2spinners and need to be used for attacking the opposition and not to check the run flow. that's when they will be successful. Optimistic indeed ;)

  • DC75 on July 24, 2014, 3:17 GMT

    I citicized Vijay before the start of the series saying that he does not have patience to play swing and leave balls alone, I was wrong, he did the exact opposite, good luck to him and may he contnue to do the sae;

    My other criticism was on Dhawan not havng ability to play swing, he has not proved me wrong yet, I hope he takes a leaf out of Vijay's batting and shows more patience before playing attacking shots.

  • howzzattt on July 24, 2014, 2:44 GMT

    Murali Vijay Krishna - Yes, well done, well played, so far a good tour. He's still got to be more consistent to retain his place in this side for at least a few years.

    A long way to go, for him to be compared to greats like Rahul Dravid or Sourav Ganguly who might have started their test careers at Lord's but they played brilliantly well over a period of 5 - 6 years even before they were called GOOD PLAYERS. Don't personally agree that Vijay can be compared to Dravid in any capacity.

    Has to be consistent, the tour of Australia later this year will give a good account of his abilities when he faces the likes of Mitchel Johnson & James Pattinson, we can then see how many he leaves outside the off stump.

    And Tamilians, stop being biased, let's have a fair say, however I still wonder what happened to Sadgoppan Ramesh, was a pretty decent boy from the same place as to where Murali Vijay hails from!!!

  • Sexysteven on July 24, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    Vijay impressive I must say strike rate don't matter the runs he's scoring does matter once kohli finds form and pujara converts the starts he's been getting then India are looking even better still think rohit needs to be in the team it will be a waste of a classy technique if he doesn't fulfil his potential that's for sure ashwin should be in the team to and Aaron I would drop binny dhawan and shami rahane to open to fit rohit in at five ashwin to follow dhoni and jadeja and Aaron to follow kumar and ishant that would be the team for me

  • on July 24, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    yes, he works like a perfect test batsman. this series can create a new Vijay, this batting style is completely against of his natural batting... no doubt his concentration, perfectness, hard work is simply superb.. I will give one suggestion to Vijay, while doing like this batting... he will always communicate with his non striker, he will guide to another batsman... see mainly virat. once kohli come back to his form, then Vijay will play somewhat fast batting. other batsmen pujara, dhoni, rahane are in good form. important thing is our top most batsmen bhuvi, jadeja, shami are also giving more than 100 runs to the each innings... mainly worried about binny, he has to maintain the patience during the batting session otherwise he will become a stokes... I hope dhoni will replace binny by aswin in next matches... good luck team India... vigorously waiting for series win by 2-0, my expectations

  • Chennai_Cricket on July 24, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    He is very aggressive player in t20 but he changed dramatically to test cricket, leaving more deliveries. I like to see leg side flick six from vijay in next test.

    Without Dhoni support he not able to play like this.

  • JustIPL on July 24, 2014, 1:55 GMT

    Very good support by Vijay at the top for India but English bowlers have made it easier for him to leave the balls by bowling wide of off, despite Lords green top and Notts early moisture. Other batsmen have been bowled in the line of stumps and their returns are different. To the lower order english again bowl width and allow to score. Anyway, by this the tests go to the fifth day after all.

  • balajik2505 on July 24, 2014, 1:45 GMT

    Well if he is the Monk, here is to hoping he never discovers the "Old Monk"(an Indian Rum Brand).

  • Greatest_Game on July 24, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    @ Top-Spinner pointed out that "In golf, there is a saying 'putt for dough, drive for show'. Vijay is a good putter, most of the other batsmen are drivers."

    And right now, Virat is the caddy!

  • Greatest_Game on July 24, 2014, 1:22 GMT

    @ SanthoshKumar Sridharan is a true optimist when he writes "In my opinion...no one has failed or underperformed so far in this series…"

    Ishant Sharma is averaging more than Kohli - WITH THE BAT! Kohli's ave is 8.5 - the lowest in the team. Bhuvi's is 69.66. Kohli is averaging lower than Bhuvi's astonishing BOWLING ave of 16.81. So what has he done to "not underperform," or "fail?" He has not held a single catch. Not one. But he has dropped a few. He has not bowled an over. You know what they say, "can't bat, can't bowl, can't field …."

    I'm pretty sure Kohli will come good, unless he has whatever ails Cook, but to say he has not failed is a little too kind. Even the serially underperforming Dhawan, whose average this series has dropped from 48.45 to 40.86 and keeps going down, has held a few catches, & bowled 2 overs for 2 runs.

    Honestly, Virat has been so bad India would have been better off just putting in a substitute fielder!

  • D.Sharma on July 23, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    I cannot believe people are complaining about Vijay's strike rate. T20 has ruined some people. I appreciate a good innings (not stats) whenever I see one. Without his determined innings, the middle order would have struggled.

  • Criticalthinking on July 23, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    I am really impressed with Vijay's temperament. I feel like he can become India's next wall. But I don't understand some fans, before this test series, most of them were commenting that Vijay shouldn't be in the team. But now all of them praising him like anything. Please fans, let him play his cricket. He is still young. Sachin took 70 odd matches to score is first century in ODI. @ svenkat02 - Your statement looks funny, If Dhawan is slow learner. That means out of 5 matches, Dhawan will play only for the last match. There are some guys who can start performing from 2 match or 3 match. Then what about them ???

  • here2rock on July 23, 2014, 22:16 GMT

    Underrated versatile cricketer, great to watch, keeping the flame alive left by Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. I think he can be great in ODIs for the World Cup next year. He brings calm to the batting order.

  • caldruid on July 23, 2014, 20:38 GMT

    Good player. He needs to repeat this performance more often against stronger teams.

  • ladycricfan on July 23, 2014, 19:44 GMT

    Vijay's style of leaving the ball has become his hall mark. Good to watch.

  • on July 23, 2014, 19:42 GMT

    ashwin has also good technique and temprement to be a opener why he is not given oppurtunity to open the innings

  • SRAM20 on July 23, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    I wouldnt drop Dhawan anytime before the 5th test. If Dhawan has consistently failed across 4 tests, I would drop him for the final one. Thats because Dhawan takes some time to get going. he did the same in SA and NZ tour where he did get going at the latter part of the series. He scored a 90 and a 100 in NZ. Yes he is slow in picking up, but with exposure, he should become consistent. He has the talent, its some small chinks he needs to address.

    Vijay has always been like this. The IPL and that image completely ruined him temporarily. But now, he is back in business. I too was influenced by his IPL reputation. But he has shown he belongs here.

  • Eclipse0990 on July 23, 2014, 18:21 GMT

    Vijay and Gambhir can not open together unless we want to score just 150 odd runs in 90 overs. The reason why Sehwag-Gambhir, Langer-Hayden, Tendulkar-Dravid, Sanggakara-Mahela and such partnerships have been good is that they complement each other. I agree that both vijay and Gambhir can switch gears easily. But their success rate will be lower than Sehwag and Dhawan who are naturally attacking batsmen. We should keep that in mind. Even in ODIs, Dhawan complements Rohit's style of taking time. That's a must for the partnership to survive long run. If there is too much attack or defense, it will put both partners under pressure. We need Dhawan and Vijay. P.S. I am not Dhawan's fan. I still want Sehwag back at the opening spot with Gambhir.

  • Cricfever_PM on July 23, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    @switchmitch:: Rightly said as our fans mentality is the player has to play the each innings well and score 100 and even i say few people asking to drop Kohli and pick Rohit, god give them peace.

    Vijay is natural stroke player and he was having some issue with his leg movement and technique which is now somehow shorted out and even with the presence of Dravid he is improving much and he will play for India longer time, and Kohli's two bad test doesn't mean he is not adjusting to English condition and he will comeback well and even i am not favor of dropping Dhawan as he deserved another chance and he will improve soon. The team looks good and don't change anything other then bringing Ashwin and rest Binny as Spinners role is very much important in Manchester.

  • on July 23, 2014, 18:18 GMT

    In my opinion...no one has failed or underperformed so far in this series...India needs two spinners to bowl in tandem and unfortunately Binny will be sitting out in that case. nothing against him i do believe he will play his part in suitable conditions. For people who says Vijay leaves too many balls: had he got out playing shots india would have struggled and people across forums will call for his head as they do with Dhawan now. no need to drop anyone. replace binny with ashwin (not because binny is not capable but india needs another spinner).this is test cricket and here because such time consuming batsmen the "flamboyants" can play shots.test cricket becomes exciting only when it goes into the final day and for that to happen you need time consumers like dravid, vijay and so many others.

  • Top-Spinner on July 23, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    In golf, there is a saying 'putt for dough, drive for show'. Vijay is a good putter, most of the other batsmen are drivers.

  • indianzen on July 23, 2014, 18:04 GMT

    Vijay is maturing as one of the best openers for test cricket at the moment... A hitter can punch the ball anywhere, but it needs courage to play the swinging deliveries in the back foot... Time for Gambhir to replace Dhawan...

  • on July 23, 2014, 18:03 GMT

    Guess, he leaves lots of balls outside off and slow as he is now in target of cementing his place in eleven and this is his last ever opportunity. He will surely improve his strike rate better than anyone in near future as he got certain recognition now after proving himself in pitch like Lords.

  • starincricket on July 23, 2014, 17:51 GMT

    1st of all,its a Great Team Effort!! Vijay did his part fantastically well in english conditions. He is a True Test player..The patience, temperament, watchfulness and the technique was excellent.. i admire even in SA conditions.. he is much better player in foreign conditions now.. he ll surely get lot of 100s on his name.. Congrats Vijay and Way to go!!

  • switchmitch on July 23, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    One bad inning and the vultures will be back to claim the monk's head. Such is the way of our fickle fans. Right now, Dhawan is the scapegoat. Just two test matches ago, people wanted Gambhir to open with Dhawan, now the flavour is Vijay-Gambhir. People do not realize or choose to shut out the fact that Dhawan is an explosive batsman. All he needs is one hour on the wicket and then he can take the game away from the opposition in a blink. We need such players and should give them ample opportunities. He does not need good technique, he just needs to spend one hour on the pitch, that's all. And in any case, his technique is not all that bad (Sehwag anyone?) Good for monk though. He shut all his naysayers and boy did he! More than the runs, his monumental patience is amazing. Monk, Rahane, Pujara and Kohli are going to be the bulwarks of Indian batting for the next 3-4 years. If the bowlers show consistency, we may well be knocking at the top two spots in that time.

  • on July 23, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    Team India need few changes n rotations whatever may you call it. 1. Gambhir in place of Dhawan. 2. Ashwin in place of Binny/Jadeja and 3. give brake to Shami n bring Pandey..

  • Eclipse0990 on July 23, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Ah.. guys! Give Dhawan a break. I agree he isnt scoring much. But it is not as if he is out of form. He is putting bat to ball nicely and that too without leaving too much. Infact, if someone watched his innings, he has been fluent. And has been out to stupid shots. That too not in slips. But to cut shots at point and so on. And had it not been a catch, it'd be an awesome boundary. So give atleast next match. He will come around. To force the results, we need player like him at the top. He is our game changer. Once he gets going, Anderson and co are in for a good lesson. :-)

  • on July 23, 2014, 17:18 GMT

    That last line :D Though a bit too early to compare monk and the other guy don't you think?

  • india_boy33 on July 23, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Opening slot is always must important task for every team in all 3 formats of game. In my view India's openers Dhawan & Vijay both are inconsistent & brittle. Dhawan is the weak link, he is not a classy test batsman. His debut Inng against Aussies is epic which made him hero in one night. Becoz if any one made some 180 runs in his debut against Aussies pace attack is whelming & courageous. But this could happen again in future I don't think so. I think Rahane should come up in opening slot with Vijay, this could makes any sense. But remove Dhawan, Binny & Jadeja from team right now.(In foreign conditions only)

  • on July 23, 2014, 16:32 GMT

    'Although for entirely different reasons, Vijay is, after all, nicknamed Monk.'

    I can think of one possible reason!

  • Sunstare on July 23, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    This is the match Sid is telling in the final punch. Both Sourav and Dravid went on to become the legends. http://www.espncricinfo.com/england-v-india-2014/engine/match/63714.html

  • rick333 on July 23, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    Vijay is a delight watch. He wields his bat in arcs. This school of proper batting is lke magician wielding his magic wand. To compare agains The Wall might be either too bold or prophetic But one thing is for sure, both The Wall and Monk does thankless job in the era when glitzy mainstream mean adores troubled cild as darling.

  • on July 23, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    Excellent article especially first para. I too was surprised when the commentators and pundits said Vijay is playing against his natural game. This is his natural game, what he has shown in England and everywhere. The slow, patient innings. In SA and NZ too, he ate a lot of balls and made it easier for people who followed. It's just that as an opener, unfortunately, it's those hundreds that matter. All in all, one of the most technically correct batsman and a great future prospect, if not already.

  • sumanth3 on July 23, 2014, 15:42 GMT

    I think replacing gambhir in place of dhawan will make vijay and pujara play much freely as the early wicket of dhawan creating pressure on them..also addition of rohit in place of binny adds strength to the team..rohit will also be useful as part time spinner

  • Johnny_129 on July 23, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Oh Lord - Leaving deliveries, such exciting stuff!! I understand leaving deliveries is an important part of a batsman's repertoire BUT there should be some limit to it - They should almost make it illegal to leave more than 55% deliveries even in Test matches. Otherwise, us fans will die of old age watching GREAT LEAVES! No wonder people prefer T20. It is okay for batsmen to leave a few, especially openers and Vijay has done great. However, let's not encourage leaves over runs. WHACK THAT LEATHER. I'm Indian but prefer a Viv (or Sehwag) over a Dravid, any day - Cricket purists (old timers) will disagree ;o)

  • on July 23, 2014, 15:32 GMT

    The last sentence! Should he do at least half of what that gentleman did Vijay would be considered a good player by the time he hangs his boots. I believe Vijay has the patience and temperament suited to Test Cricket and could go a long way from where he is today.

  • on July 23, 2014, 15:20 GMT

    Ya, the brilliant Indian wall.

  • cricket_lover1 on July 23, 2014, 15:12 GMT

    Ashwin should be made opener and should open with Vijay that will give more flexibility to Dhoni. Ashwin opened he innings in past in domestic circuit so he can be a easy fit.

  • vatsap on July 23, 2014, 15:05 GMT

    It's a pity that one of India's best bat in the past 2 seasons gets treated so badly. In the run up to this series, all and sundry were all for dropping Vijay and bring back Viru/Gauti after their IPL/Ranji performances. Fact is Vijay has realized he will be on trial for ever in his career. He has to score a fifty every third innings for him to be in the reckoning. Not many folks are questioning Shikhar Dhawan (and rightly so) for one has to be given a decent run.

    Even in SA/NZ where Vijay didn't set the stage on fire, he occupied the crease for a significant time, rather than give it away. Hope he plays well for the remaining games.

  • ramz30380 on July 23, 2014, 15:02 GMT

    Sidharth Monga, Im big fan of ur writing - but I think U've been a bit unfair to Vijay here - he scored a fighting 97 against the likes of Steyn, Philander & Morkel in SA, how can you discard tht or not bother to mention in ur article.

    I have always felt tht Vijay has been one of those who never get credit for their efforts - Rahane acknolwdged the fact tht Vijay's & Pujara's 30+ scores in the first innings, tht saw off the new ball on a 'greenest of green top' had been the foundation for his century! As an opener Vijay is doing fine.

    It will be unfair to compare Vijay to a Sehwag - Sehwag was a dominator, Vijay is a compiler - he is one of those annoying ones who wont get out, but keep playing and playing till the bowlers wear themselves out! Hope for Indian cricket's sake he has found his mojo back!

    He is the highest run scorer for India in Eng this far & he is not given his due credit even then! When Cook scored in India it was a big thing, why not for an Indian opener then?!

  • on July 23, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    Vijay and Pujara have been immaculate at their job of seeing off the new ball. India could be better off roping in Ashwin in place of Binny. Dhawan must be given one more Test to prove his credentials. Apparently, If bumpers are the way going forward then perhaps Pankaj Singh instead of Shami could be an interesting choice given his height. Rest of the team looks fine. I'm sure the class act that Kohli is, would bounce back soon and even MSD for that matter should be able to counter his own routine-outside-off-dismissal ploy by being aggressive from the outset. He is a Master in Limited Overs Cricket and thats how he needs to go about his game in Tests too. Loads of Luck from the Billions at Home!!! #BlowThePoms

  • on July 23, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    He is called monk as he likes to shave off his head frequently.

  • on July 23, 2014, 14:50 GMT

    Nexttoimpossible you are realy impossible...why are comparing the two.. never do that.. just look at individual's performance and how it helped the team win a game..that's all what matters. Ashwin average has also been skewed being not outs. Also, he is too weak in bowling in foreign conditions. He can't even stop the flow of runs. Jadeja does that job well. At the moment if India plays only spinner it has to be Jadeja and on spinning tracks both can play (like was the same with Kumble and Bhajji for much part of their playing together).

  • myStraightTalk on July 23, 2014, 14:46 GMT

    Test cricket will be dead soon.. if cricketer waste so much ball leaving rather then playing it and scoring.. people watch not to see the batsman leaving the ball.

  • kiranpsjk on July 23, 2014, 14:44 GMT

    I think....Dravid's Appoinment as a Batting consultant for team India in England might help the youngstars to adopt the typical test wicket. we can observe that style in pujara, Vijay, Bhuvanesh...

  • on July 23, 2014, 14:39 GMT

    I love the punch in the last statement, and caused a glint in my eyes: "He is not in bad company in that regard. Eighteen years ago, at the same venue, two Indians playing their first Test at Lord's charmed the world. One got a hundred, the other 95." Everybody knows what that player who scored 95 achieved. 164 Tests and 13,378 runs, interspersed with any number of innings that won many Test matches for India during his golden period of stay. The one and only Rahul Dravid.

  • Speedwheels on July 23, 2014, 14:30 GMT

    I remember reading that Vijay's nickname of "Monk" comes from his preference for the Indian "Old Monk" rum. If that is true, that is the funniest nickname ever !

  • wolf777 on July 23, 2014, 14:22 GMT

    Good sign for India. Hope the change is permanent. Good luck to Vijay.

  • arunrajaram on July 23, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    Dear Sid - Good article. Just a minor correction to your statement "The runs haven't always followed - he didn't get a century in either South Africa or New Zealand - but...". He did miss a century by 3 runs in South Africa in the 1st innings of Second test if I'm correct.

  • ravi_shankar88 on July 23, 2014, 13:51 GMT

    Vijay needs couple of daddy hundreds in england otherwise indian fans will soon forget contribution too soon if suppose he fails in upcoming tours.

  • TRAM on July 23, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    Many fans make the mistake of comparing Vijay's stats with others like Pujara, Kholi etc. Openers face the unknowns in the pitch, conditions and the bowler. They face the bowlers when the bowlers are most fresh. They get no rest between innings with only 10 minutes to rush back, put the guards on and be back to play. A 50 run opening partnership removes all fears in middle order batsmen and also means the ball has lost considerable shine and the rest can build on for a big score. A 35 avg by a opener should be valued equivalent to say 45/50 by middle order players.

  • on July 23, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    @venkatramanswaminathan dont make comparison bw sehwag and vijay . u know with whom u r comparing the one and only triple centurian ever produced by india nd who wins the game with in single session nd whos average is above 50 . u know what vijays avg lessthan ashwin , if u backing vijay for only one innings.

  • joseyesu on July 23, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    Placing gambir in the squad can play some part in opening players approach(survival).

  • on July 23, 2014, 13:33 GMT

    His legacy will stem from his ability to switch from T20s to tests more seamlessly than any body else. Admittedly Kohli and co are the more gifted bunch and automatically deserve a spot in any international format. I was not a huge fan of Vijay in the past on but these few innings have sold him to me.

  • Thatsmygame on July 23, 2014, 13:26 GMT

    Slowly the pieces are falling in place for Team India. I feel Dhawan should be given a break/rest. Get Gambhir in to complement Vijay. Dhawan is too impatient to wait and play it out. Gambhir with his experience will be an added strength to this side & moreover it won't be a hard decision to make as Dhawan is not exactly bristling with form in these conditions.

  • Alberteinstien on July 23, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    Vijay overseas average is still less than r Ashwin's oversea average then how he is a test success ALso vijays average overall is less than ashwin

  • TRAM on July 23, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    People who have seen Vijay's IPL centuries would not believe it is the same player playing like this in Tests. As Sid points out THIS is his natural game I saw in the 98 & 116 run opening partnership in his first two innings against Aus. He is one of the players who is able to adapt Test and T20 well. Personally I wish he punish the rank bad balls more than what he does today, but then we dont want him to get out trying to increase the scoring rate. Good luck to him.

  • on July 23, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    india must leave binny out for the third test and rope in ashwin. or if they feel they need to strengthen their batting they might want to bring in gambhir at the expense of binny.

  • spinkingKK on July 23, 2014, 13:21 GMT

    I was a big Vijay supporter before he was recalled. Since he has been recalled, he has made some big scores. But, one change I can notice in his game is, he has became too much of a defensive player. This means that we are going to see several 95's and 96's from him. Because, when you are too defensive, 90's become a big hurdle. Instead, Vijay should try to dominate the bowling once he gets into the high 70's. That way, 90's will be just a passing phase. He may get out in doing so. But, if he does, he just have to convince himself that he wasn't good enough on that occasion. High 70's or 80's is regarded high in test cricket anyway. In the second test, I was telling my fellow viewers that he was going to get out in 90's sometime on that day. Because, it never looked like he was going to get any more runs. So, wicket was the only other alternative and that was inevitable.

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    vijay has a great temprament..he looks so solid and stylish with his technique..great to see another indian batsman is maturing so fast..all the best to him..his 95 was the main key to win for india

  • krishkingnishanth on July 23, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    Murali Vijay might well be Dhoni's first test success as a find (Ashwin is not a complete test success despite being the fastest to reach 100 wickets). The other Dhoni finds such as Rohit Sharma and Jadeja and a few others are yet to prove test material. Ganguly on the other hand had all his men except Yuvraj make a mark at the test level. Virat and Dhawan aren't Dhoni finds as such. By find i mean those constantly backed by the man. You can add Ishant here though he was discovered even before Dhoni in a way.

  • Coolcapricorn on July 23, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Vijay's wonderful performances to date in this series has hopefully now cemented his place in the Indian Test team for many years to come & got rid of his critics for good. We know he is well capable of being an aggressive player like Dhawan or Kohli but curbing his attacking instincts & holding up an end in wearing down the opposition bowlers is equally a very important task in any Test team. Both him & Pujara are very capable of fulfilling this role & their partnership in both innings of the Lord's Test played a pivotal role in India's victory.

  • rhome on July 23, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    He did get a 90+ score in SA

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    Our middle order owe it big time to Vijay and Pujara for their skill to leave the balls. They may not score big, but their patience to grind it out helps middle order to score big. Vijay has been outstanding in SA, NZ and now in England. He looks like a hard working cricketer.

  • SudharsanVM on July 23, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Vijay scored 97 in Durban. Isnt'it?

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    Siddharth he made a 97 in Durban.........

  • profu on July 23, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    To your last line Sid: "Rest, as they say, is History!"

  • bmani27 on July 23, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Sid, Vijay got a 97 in SA right?

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    I am good follower of vijay i feel like he is far better than Shewag(miserably failed against same england tour to India) Gambir another attacking player but india need a player like vijay who knows how to play a real Test Match

  • bharatratna on July 23, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    "he didn't get a fifty in either South Africa or New Zealand" - there was a 97 at Durban, I believe?

  • bharatratna on July 23, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    "he didn't get a fifty in either South Africa or New Zealand" - there was a 97 at Durban, I believe?

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:22 GMT

    I am good follower of vijay i feel like he is far better than Shewag(miserably failed against same england tour to India) Gambir another attacking player but india need a player like vijay who knows how to play a real Test Match

  • bmani27 on July 23, 2014, 12:23 GMT

    Sid, Vijay got a 97 in SA right?

  • profu on July 23, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    To your last line Sid: "Rest, as they say, is History!"

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:34 GMT

    Siddharth he made a 97 in Durban.........

  • SudharsanVM on July 23, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Vijay scored 97 in Durban. Isnt'it?

  • on July 23, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    Our middle order owe it big time to Vijay and Pujara for their skill to leave the balls. They may not score big, but their patience to grind it out helps middle order to score big. Vijay has been outstanding in SA, NZ and now in England. He looks like a hard working cricketer.

  • rhome on July 23, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    He did get a 90+ score in SA

  • Coolcapricorn on July 23, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Vijay's wonderful performances to date in this series has hopefully now cemented his place in the Indian Test team for many years to come & got rid of his critics for good. We know he is well capable of being an aggressive player like Dhawan or Kohli but curbing his attacking instincts & holding up an end in wearing down the opposition bowlers is equally a very important task in any Test team. Both him & Pujara are very capable of fulfilling this role & their partnership in both innings of the Lord's Test played a pivotal role in India's victory.

  • krishkingnishanth on July 23, 2014, 12:53 GMT

    Murali Vijay might well be Dhoni's first test success as a find (Ashwin is not a complete test success despite being the fastest to reach 100 wickets). The other Dhoni finds such as Rohit Sharma and Jadeja and a few others are yet to prove test material. Ganguly on the other hand had all his men except Yuvraj make a mark at the test level. Virat and Dhawan aren't Dhoni finds as such. By find i mean those constantly backed by the man. You can add Ishant here though he was discovered even before Dhoni in a way.