India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 3rd day March 18, 2017

Vijay rues playing a good shot at a bad time

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'Game is evenly poised' - Vijay

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Smit1307 on March 19, 2017, 8:31 GMT

    Common Give him some benefit of doubt. He was confident to play that shot and got beat, Big deal. People get beat many times. Yes the timing was not great, but its never a good time to get out. They both were set, had a decent partnership, high on confidence, decent batting to follow, so he went for the shot. Yes he made a mistake, but still it was a mistake, who doesnt make it? But you cant take the credit away for the runs he scored and time he spent out in the middle. His and pujara's partnership was very crucial. And since the run scoring was slow, he tried to be positive. In fact he along with Pujara have been the most effective and consistent batsmen in our team which can not be only measured by the number of runs scored. TIme they spend it helps blunt out the new ball and the opposition bowlers making it easy for the rest of the batsmen. Appreciate the inning and hope he continues to play good cricekt for team India in coming few years.

  • SURGICALTEAMUNO on March 19, 2017, 8:17 GMT

    @__PK : Congratulations to SOK to get 150+ runs in 64 overs for 1 wicket!! (highest ever number of overs bowled by an Aussie in India!)

  • Sun05 on March 19, 2017, 8:05 GMT

    Some of the commentators keep saying brain fade. The player himself did not admit it but you guys consider it a brain fade eh. Indian fans are toughest to please.

  • switchmitch on March 19, 2017, 6:42 GMT

    Vijay is an infuriating batsman. He has all the shots, amazing defense and wonderful patience. The problem is he goes through small phases of brain fades, when he tries to hit every ball he faces. These phases generally last for about 30-40 balls, where he tries his best to get out. This happens in every innings. If he is lucky he survives this phase but more often than not, he succumbs to it, like he did yesterday. He is a very good player but if he wants to become great, he needs to eliminate these 'brain fade phases' from his innings. Getting out to good balls happens but getting out to brain fades regularly is unbecoming.

  • Vnott on March 19, 2017, 6:26 GMT

    OPTO_PUS. you start off so well saying that Rahul, Vijay and Pujara are key performers in the India. It is always good to have the Top 3 layout a nice platform. But then you really go south with the rest of the analysis. Kohli has played fast bowling and on bouncy wickets beautifully. You did a Rip Van Winkle there. Rahane who has played beautifully in most countries as well. Rule them out at your own Peril....

  • opto_pus on March 19, 2017, 5:38 GMT

    There are three batsmen in the Indian side that get going when the going gets tough they are Lokesh Rahul, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara . Batsmen like Virat Kohli, Ajinke Rahane and Karun Nair are very good against poor quality bowling like England with second sting spinners like Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, but when it comes to playing quality bowlers like Steve O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon they struggle completely on turning tracks. Abhinav Mukund was a waste of space in the tests he was selected to play in this series and Shreyas Iyer should get the call up to replace even virat in the next test Virat is a walking wicket, but everyone will pretend he is going to find his form, his form is the same in England Virat should resign the test captaincy, so that Pujara can take the test side forward. Virat is a one dimensional slogger and nothing else. In Australia if he had to face Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon next time we will find out on fast pitches.

  • SURGICALTEAMUNO on March 19, 2017, 5:30 GMT

    @__PK - Yeah... I'm impressed by SOK taking a 5'fer every innings so far, and completely outsmarting the Indian batsmen. At this rate he will be world number 1 in no time.

  •   Nandu Menon on March 19, 2017, 3:54 GMT

    Smith showed how to approach batting with dedication in a test match. What Vijay,Kohli and Rahane showed the other side of the coin, the lack of it! Vijay was rash in playing a risky shot a few balls before lunch break,where as Smith and Maxwell were cautious during all the turns they made.The fact that you are to be the mainstay for your team is behind this kind of performance. That is the application India lacks.

  • Siva_Bala75 on March 19, 2017, 2:34 GMT

    Vijay can step down and play a lofted shot on the off side. When he does that he is successful. To play a lofted shot on the left side- over mid-on is definitely not the right choice and especially from a left arm bowler and against the spin. This pair could have easily batted another couple of hours and the game would have looked very different had Vijay not tried that shot.

  • ACrickLover on March 19, 2017, 2:12 GMT

    While pujara did extremely great to play such a solid and useful innings but for vijay's out we have to criticize pujara too. They have played together for long time and pujara is supposed to know the weakness of his partner that vijay has tendency to play a shot at wrong time and throw his wicket, so he must have gone to him and cautioned him against taking any risk in that fateful last over.

    I am not telling pujara can be held responsible for not doing this extra job, I am only telling - sometimes you have to do bit more than what you are expected to do for the betterment of the team. No one can blame pujara for not cautioning vijay but if pujara was alert to the imminent danger of gifting a wicket in such a awful way then it would have been appreciated by all of us.

    Cricket is probably the toughest and most complex game where so many factors affect the game and its outcome, a batsman should know that merit of the delivery is not enough to play a shot, situation is important too.

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