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'Mature' Vijay eager for overseas success

Siddarth Ravindran

November 24, 2013

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Shikhar Dhawan is consoled by M Vijay after falling for 187, India v Australia, 3rd Test, 4th day, Mohali, March 17, 2013
M Vijay on his opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan: "Whenever we're out there, it's like two friends batting together." © BCCI
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Players/Officials: Murali Vijay
Teams: India

M Vijay has played each of India's last six Tests, which is more successive matches he has played in the national team in any format since his international debut more than five years ago. The prolonged dip in form of established Test openers, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, allowed him a look-in and a couple of big hundreds against Australia earlier this year have, at long last, earned him something of a sustained run in the longest format.

"I'm more mature now," Vijay said in Meerut, when asked to explain his Test success in 2013. "I know my game better. It's about being consistent in all forms of the game. "

Firmly established as a batting star in the IPL, where his strokeplay can be both brutal and easy on the eye, Vijay showed he could shelve the flashy strokes in the Tests against Australia.

"It is very tough mentally to tune to formats, playing Test cricket to suddenly teeing off from the first ball. But, as a professional, that is my challenge," he said. "Hopefully I can transform my game accordingly whenever required."

He will have to make changes to succeed over the next year or so, as India are set to tour South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia - four countries where conditions differ drastically from the subcontinental tracks Vijay is most comfortable batting.

"I have a long way to go but I've learnt a lot of things," he said. "I want to do well abroad, I'm working hard on my game and hopefully I'm on the right track."

Things haven't quite gone to plan since the Australia Test series for Vijay, as he struggled to establish himself in the one-day squad and couldn't make much of an impact on the tour of South Africa with a strong A team. Vijay was in the squad for the Champions Trophy in England, but couldn't get a game. He played three ODIs in the tri-series against Sri Lanka and West Indies, featuring in a one-day game after nearly two years. On India A's tour to South Africa, Vijay scored 48 runs at an average of 16 in the two unofficial Tests. With India not playing Tests for eight months after the Australia series, Vijay said he did feel the pressure going into the recent West Indies series.

"Personally yes, because I knew I was going to play the next series (against West Indies), I had that much confidence," he said. "From my expectation, I let myself down, I tweaked a lot of things (mentally) and it didn't come out properly, I didn't get to play the longer version in between. It's good that I'm getting back to playing a few."

Vijay played just one first-class match in the lead-up to the West Indies series, but should get three rounds of Ranji games before heading to South Africa next month. The fact that he will open the innings with Shikhar Dhawan, a man in red-hot form across formats this year, will also help Vijay.

"He's on a high - high on confidence and batting at his best. We're good friends both on and off the field. It's great to bat with him," Vijay said. "Whenever we're out there, it's like two friends batting together. Pressure situations get lighter hopefully we can continue to do this. You sense it inside, when he is striking the ball well, you can't go with a pre-planned notion. If you think your partner is batting well, you can take time and not take risks. If he's struggling, I try to get going and push singles so that I can help him out."

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by sailorsupreme on (December 1, 2013, 10:56 GMT)

@Joe-car or is it Joker jokes apart Dhawan has made a stupendous start to his test career in India and he has the shots the cut and the pull. He is a freak, not unlike Sehwag. He will have to make the necessary adjustments but then not so long ago he smashed 248 in an ODI in SA. Rohit is sheer class and Kohli's batting has come a long way. Pujara is in the Alastair Cook mould and will flourish, you will see. SA bowlers are are over rated. The recent mediocre performance by the English against one Aus bowler is a clear indicator that England does not have world class batsmen. The Indians have a point to prove and the answers will be there at the end of this month when they thrash the daylights out of the likes of Steyn and Philander, first in the ODI and then in the tests. The last time around Sachin , playing from memory was able to knock up a century against the very same tyros. SA is in for a hiding and after that its is the turn of Aus and England. NZ is no match, really.

Posted by   on (November 29, 2013, 5:52 GMT)

No doubt alli the new batsman have done well in international games at home. We have to be patient to see them do well in SA,Australia,England , New Zealand and WI

Organize more Ranji games on wickets like Lahl Put more money in U19/ Ranji/ Duleep and stop IPL

Posted by RaghavCric on (November 28, 2013, 21:05 GMT)

If Vijay had been from Delhi or Mumbai, this wouldn't even be an issue after he scored not one but two centuries against Australia this year.

Posted by   on (November 28, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

murali vijay has a chance to be in the permanent chance if he performs well in south African tour . Lets give it a try if he fail then there has to be a serious question in who has to be in opening slot. I hope our Indian team wont fail against south African pace led by dale steyn

Posted by   on (November 28, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

easiest way to get in to Indian team ? a) play for csk b) be from tamil nadu srinivasan will ensure u play for India... Dhoni will not say no coz srini backed him during 0-8 loss... everyone knows that vijay doesn't have the game nor the attitude to succeed in saf.. remember wasim jaffer ? He was scoring double hundreds in Indian conditions and how Brett Lee troubled him ? vijay's situation will be similar with steyn n morkel

Posted by CricketMaan on (November 26, 2013, 9:35 GMT)

People, note Rahane does not even open for Mumbai, his mumbai captains have mentioned int he past he is cut for middle order. And Rayudu does not open for his state teams. Not everyone is a Viru to just walk into No.1 slot and end up scoring 8000+ runs. Vijay has been selected, give him a go. He knows that if he fails in these 2 outings, he may be out for a long time. But who else can be trusted for opeinng apart from GG. I think message to GG is that if he keeps scoring he is a sure shot for many overseas tests to come. If GG fails in SA he will be warming bench for a long time, rather let him score heavily and most likely will replace one of Vijay, Dhawan in NZ or England. And for Vijay, he was found out more often fishing outside offstump very early in his innings, he has been compact with the incoming deliveries, but the one that leaves him is his nemesis. Steyn, Phil can bowl that sort of length and line with eyes closed. So watch out Vijay.

Posted by Naresh28 on (November 26, 2013, 9:12 GMT)

Rayudu is a player who displays patience. This is a one requirement needed for a Test opener. He has to work on the other attributes. The selectors obviously would want him to have a good run.This i feel will be a make or break series for him.

Posted by   on (November 25, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

His avarage in ten innings outside India is about 18. India has not selected horses for the courses by selecting Vijay.

Posted by binu.emiliya on (November 25, 2013, 14:57 GMT)

Vijay was man of the series and top scorer when CLT20 first season in SA

Posted by TRAM on (November 25, 2013, 13:20 GMT)

Funny some people commenting here dont even have the idea that opener slot is a specialist slot. With pitch behavior unknown, ball new and swinging, bowlers and fielders most energetic and pumped up, it is the harshest conditions for the batsmen. Especially in test matches where there are no restrictions on fielding or overs, if one can open and score big that means he has passed ALL tests for batting. Both Dhawan and MVijay have passed that several times in India. They only need to prove in foreign pitches.

Of the young lot today, Mukund did better than most other batsmen in foreign conditions and he scored 11,25,1,48,62,0,49,12,0,3 ALL IN FOREIGN PITCHES OPENER SLOT. How is this a bad performance for a youngster in opener slot? He was never given chance in local India matches. He showed he can stay at the crease for long which Gambhir failed(in foreign pitches). Mukund is such a good backfoot player very much needed in SA pitches.

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