Chennai v Rajasthan, IPL 2010, Chennai April 3, 2010

Vijay parades his Twenty20 skills

After a sleepy start to the tournament M Vijay has taken the IPL by storm with successive Man-of-the-Match awards

Scores of 34, 12 and 19 aren't what you would normally associate with Matthew Hayden. Chennai Super Kings' trump-card at the top will be disappointed with those returns but somewhere at the back of his mind, you suspect that he is a relieved man.

That's because the over-reliance on him to fire has diminished somewhat thanks to the emergence of M Vijay, who after a sleepy start to the tournament has taken the IPL by storm with successive Man-of-the-Match awards. Vijay's 56-ball 127, laced with 11 sixes and eight fours, was this season's most destructive innings in a winning cause and helped Chennai break their own record of the highest IPL total.

Vijay's sudden upswing began the last time Chennai played Rajasthan, when he made a breezy 42 off 28 balls. He went one step further in the next game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, smashing 78 off 39 balls to set up a successful chase. His appetite for big scores was evident today in Chennai where he cleared the ropes with such regularity that one could have been fooled into thinking this was a computer game in progress with the cheat code on.

A pattern in all three knocks was his penchant for the on side; the area from midwicket to long-on is his favoured arc. On a belter of a wicket, Rajasthan did themselves no favours by continuously feeding him length balls on middle and leg and he cashed in.

After dismissing two deliveries from Sumit Narwal to midwicket early in the innings, captain Shane Warne immediately stationed two fielders at the boundary on the leg side to check Vijay's scoring. It didn't bother him and he continued to challenge the fielders, using his feet against the spinners Yusuf Pathan and Warne. His footwork was the highlight of his knock against Bangalore and today he gave Warne the treatment with a clean hit over the sightscreen to bring up his half-century.

He carried on after that milestone, without sparing a single bowler. Shaun Tait ought to have tested him out with some quick, short stuff aimed at the ribcage, but such deliveries were few and far between. When Tait did dig one in short, Vijay slapped him over third man. Two balls later, another short delivery sat up nicely for him to dismiss it over the roof at deep midwicket. Vijay's favourite whipping boy of the evening, Narwal, was slammed for three more sixes in the region between cow corner and midwicket. The third hit - his ninth six - broke Yusuf's tournament record for the most sixes in an innings.

Perhaps Rajasthan didn't see footage of his previous knocks to work out where not to bowl. The power and bat speed behind those shots ensured the ball covered a significant distance over the ropes. Besides the bullying leg-side hits, there were a few deft late cut boundaries as well.

The delirious crowd got its money's worth when a powerful straight drive beat mid-off and brought up his century, off just 46 balls. Vijay bent down on one knee, punched the air and gestured to the yellow shirts seated at the dug out. If there were any doubters questioning his place in the XI, he had his answer. It helped that he had an attacking ally in Albie Morkel who made a scorching 60 in a stand of 152. Vijay finished just one short of Yusuf's record for the most sixes of IPL 3, a curious stat given Vijay's reputation of being a Test player.

Vijay's knock wasn't just about giving the bowlers the charge. He used the crease effectively to deliveries pitched up too, such as when he got under a yorker length ball off Shane Watson to scoop it just over the deep extra cover rope. Not all deliveries dispatched by Vijay were terrible - he was in the zone for the almost the entire innings.

Vijay walked back to a standing ovation in front of his home fans, reinforcing his worth to the national selectors. With a handful of Tests under his belt, he still remains a fringe player as far as India is concerned. An IPL century is another feather to his cap. Quite a rapid rise for someone who took to cricket only at the age of 17, the same age at which the man he replaced in the line-up, Parthiv Patel, started playing Tests for India.

Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    Absolutely stunning knock indeed. Even I didnt expect him to be in the T20 World Cup. His omission may be termed as unfortunate. Lets now hope that he be kept in waitlist for the same and be selected for the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Super innings by CSK Superman Vijay!! His leg side shots remind me the Class-act of Ricky Ponting...India should play him in one-dayers and T20s considering his pure talent...What a player!!

  • Duraibalaji on April 4, 2010, 19:18 GMT

    Awsome knock!!! Many people ( rest of TN) criticized him from the very day he started playing for india and reported bias decision by srikanth...This innings is a fitting reply to them.He had the initial jerk in the international arena now he became a true international cricketer by not just proving one game but he climbed to the third spot of highest run getters in IPl.Soon he wil find his place in ODI.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    Murali Vijay Seems to be a better player than the overrated Rohit Sharma. He should be with the Indian Team in all formats of the game. Credit must go to the National Selectors for unearthing a fantastic talent out of nowhere by giving him an opportunity ahead of players like Kohli, Pujara etc., who have been making news for a longer period of time compared to Murali Vijay...

  • Manasvi on April 4, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    Not appropriate to compare Ojha with Vijay. Vijay also faced bowlers with international experience: Tait, Watson, Warne! and even Yusuf Pathan has bowled at the international level. Ojha was dropped a lot of his shots were slogs that didn't connect properly enough. He can become a backup keeper for Dhoni in T20s, but he cannot succeed in ODIs and definitely not in Tests. And even as the backup, he will face severe competition from the versatile Dinesh karthik.

  • Krishnadeep on April 4, 2010, 9:05 GMT

    Future looks bright for Indian cricket, though IPL is not right platform to decide that.I can see Vijay, Rayadu, Pujara, Kohli, Naman Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Amit Mishra, Manish Pandey etc playing vital roles. These players have not slogged their way through the IPL and thus are not one match wonders. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

  • Alex on April 4, 2010, 7:41 GMT

    For me Murali Vijay is a Mr. Fluke. He is a good player not good for indian team. He is ideal guy to replace yuvi in Test team for sure.

    I still do not believe this guy is good in pressure situation. He is defintely better than overhyped young brat Kohli.

    I hope he keep scoring big and prove me wrong that he is no mr.fluke.!.

    We need aggressive players to win games. Enough selfhish run accumulators who play for stats.

  • Senthil on April 4, 2010, 7:28 GMT

    @ doublestrike, don't make comments based on your recent viewings, do you know M.Vijay started playing cricket only after he is aged 17!!!!! Surprise??? I would say he will keep on improve only, he may struggled in Aus and SA but he picked the Cricket bat very very lately and this is amazing to see at the age of 26. I strongly believe he will go on to play many more matches for India. You can't call RCB bowling unit composing of all International Bowlers since R.Vinaykumar also now selected for WT20. Common, M.Vijay's innings a chance less Innings with clean hitting along with only text book shots unlike Ojha dropped twice to reach this score. I am not saying he is bad let him get a win or two for RR on his own then Cricinfo will do the same thing. He also in the probables list so selectors having an eye on him also no bias.

  • santhosh on April 4, 2010, 7:23 GMT

    kallis, tendulkar, and now vijay. no prizes for guessing what is common to the three. it is evident as to what it takes to succeed in any form of cricket.

  • mohammed on April 4, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Before posting your comments about RR, dont forget that this is the same team that did beat Chennai super kings in the final and lifted the IPL trophy. Chennai with big guns almost came close to losing the game. RR lost just by 24 runs. Yes RR with not the likes of hussey, hayden, raina, dhoni, morkel, murlitharan and yet they were challenging. RR all the way.

  • No featured comments at the moment.