Chennai failure motivated Vijay
M Vijay's performance in Chennai, where he scored 16 runs in two innings, and the disappointment of his second innings dismissal, was what pushed him into an innings that could mark his return to the Indian team for a longer period.
Vijay scored a superbly-weighted second Test century, against Australia in Hyderabad, as part of a vital unbeaten 294-run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara to take India's total to 311 for 1 at stumps on day two.
Vijay said the Chennai Test had "hit him hard" because "I gave my wicket away in the second innings." Vijay had scored 10 and 6 in the Chennai Test, dismissed both times by James Pattinson. In the second innings, with the victory target being only 50, Vijay had gone for an extravagant drive outside the off stump and was caught by Moises Henriques at mid-off.
"Basically, I was thinking that I made a mistake in the second innings of the first Test match rather than the first," Vijay said. "I should have just come back not out, which didn't happen. So I was just ready for this game."
Coming to Hyderabad, Vijay said, "I just wanted to stay at the wicket for as long as possible. So that was my intention and it didn't matter how the wicket goes. My thinking was to give a good start for the team. Apparently, it happened."
Vijay's was an uncharacteristically sedate innings: of the 288 balls he faced today in his innings of 129, he scored off only 57 balls, at a strike-rate of under 45. "I was preparing to fight it out there as long as possible and maybe if a good ball comes, then it is fine. I just wanted to stay and not give my wicket away."
He realised that his partnership with Pujara was an unusual and important one for India. "It is always wonderful to get a good start for the team. Partnerships like this don't happen all the time. We really cherished it. Pujara batted really well and it was good for the team."
Over a single inspired day in Hyderabad, Vijay's selection in the Indian team for the first two Tests against Australia had gone from being a flaky choice to one governed by enormous foresight. A woeful Ranji season, in which he averaged 17.25 and top scored with 42, was not the reason he was included in the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup. Vijay scored 116 in the Irani Cup and what could have counted in his selection was a good record at home, where he averages above 47 across a smattering of 13 Tests since November 2008.
Vijay said he didn't know whether this innings would cement his pace in the Test team. "Every innings in the international circuit is very important for everybody. I was really pumped up to play this series and that is what I really worked for. When I got it, I just wanted to hang in there and show what I am capable of."
The Uppal wicket he said, was a good one to bat on, "if you apply yourself." The difficulty it presented for new batsmen coming in became the centerpiece of his partnership with Pujara. "We took it session by session. Myself and Pujara decided to bat as long as possible because on this wicket, batsman coming in will find it a little difficult."
He said that occupying sessions and time was a conscious effort by him and his partner. The turn being offered by the wicket was not consistent, he said, and the unpredictability meant that the batsmen couldn't take it easy against the spinners.
Despite that, Vijay and Pujara scored 140 runs against the spinners Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell in 36 overs, and punished David Warner's part-time leg spin for 14 in a single over.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo