Vijay rues playing a good shot at a bad time
M Vijay's 50th Test was going pretty much the way he must have dreamed it would go - if he had dared to dream that dream. After Australia had posted 451 batting first, he had laid a rock-solid foundation to India's reply; putting on 91 with KL Rahul for the first wicket and 102 with Cheteshwar Pujara for the second, and was 18 short of a hundred with three balls to go for lunch on day three.
Then, with India on the verge of a wicketless session, he stepped out of his crease to Steve O'Keefe and was stumped, missing the line of a ball that didn't turn as much as expected. At stumps, with India 360 for 6, Vijay said he was fine with his choice of shot but admitted he might have chosen the wrong time to play it.
"See, I wasn't disappointed actually," Vijay said. "The shot was on - mid-off, mid-on inside, so I thought it was my shot. But the situation was wrong, I guess, and the execution was not up to the mark, but definitely the shot was on."
Vijay had been watchful through the first hour of the day, before shifting gears with a few calculated risks in the second. He brought out an array of sweeps and slog-sweeps to score his last 22 runs in 22 balls.
"They were bowling really tight, to be honest," Vijay said. "Myself and Pujara had a talk in between. The goal is to see off the initial phase. We know for sure that if we put them under pressure we can get a lot of runs in the second and third session. That was the basic idea. It came out pretty well, but it could have been much better if I had not gotten out."
Pat Cummins was Australia's main threat, his pace and bounce accounting for four wickets on a pitch that had little help for the quicks. Vijay said he had been hostile initially before settling into more of a line-and-length pattern, and getting fired up once again by taking Virat Kohli's wicket in his first over with the second new ball.
"He was bowling really well," Vijay said. "He was sharp in the early spell and then he was trying to bowl one line to us. As soon as the wicket fell, I think he had extra gas in him. So yeah, it was a good, challenging Test for us to battle against him."
India ended the day trailing by 91 runs, with Pujara still at the crease on 130. "I think the game is evenly poised," Vijay said. "If we can get closer to the target and maybe, if possible, extend the lead from there, I think it's going to be a good game in hand."
Asked about the most memorable moment from his 50 Tests, he picked India's win at Lord's in 2014, to which he contributed a vital second-innings 95.
"There are lots [of moments]," he said. "Everything is still fresh in my memory. But to be honest the Lord's Test win is one thing that stands out."
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo